‘Don’t judge a designer by their looks’ – words I often want to think out loud.
Every time I meet a new client for work, I see hesitation in their eyes and reluctance in their behavior – Does she know anything about UX? Would she be able to deliver UX! She doesn’t “look” experienced, how will she design our product? Should I ask for someone else?
(maybe they are thinking – someone who looks more experienced)
During the first few months of my professional life, my confidence would plummet every time this happened. It frustrated me to the point that I wanted to look older because I was concerned about how I was being perceived by others. I wasn’t given a chance to showcase my work because I ‘looked’ young and it made me feel horrible.
But then I realized something – Every time these doubtful eyes were laid on me, it sparked a little fire within my creative soul. I consciously made it a point to improve my design process. Because now I had something to prove: to myself and to the whole world. I reached out to my mentors and peers who guided and supported me in my quest for identity. I consciously learnt to provide design rationale, which also helped me better my designs, to think out of the box and to design ‘beyond my years’. I learned to base my concepts on thorough user research. I realized that if i wanted people to take me seriously i had to sell my designs with more confidence, i couldn’t bank solely on my aptitude, i also had to alter my attitude.
And guess what.. It worked! The very same clients came around – they started acknowledging my thoughts and ideas, they started believing in my capabilities and yes, they all realized that they were too quick to make a judgment. Some of them apologized for their behavior in their own ways (though I never expected one), some by directly saying it and others by putting their faith in me for more UX work, either way it made me happy.
Creativity is independent of the number of years, so if someone gives you a chance- grab it! With time you will learn to manage your design and stakeholders, to set their expectations, and deliver. But the key is not to get disheartened or forget to be creative.
Because, now when I stand face-to-face with a new client and they give me the ‘doubtful’ look, all I think is ‘Judge all you want – It is only going to make me believe in myself more’.
Here is an article you might be interested in. What separates designers from other professions?