I hate titles

Why design titles are just like toothpaste.

February 14, 2019

A LinkedIn connection of mine posted a document yesterday asking what titles his connections give themselves. The post contained 20 different variants of designer titles, here are a few:

  • UX Designer
  • UI Designer
  • Design Researcher
  • Creative Director
  • Design Lead
  • Senior Designer
  • Graphic Designer
  • Digital Designer


Oi vey. That's only half. And he didn't even cover all of the options out there. You might be thinking, isn't the point to distinguish ourselves from people? Yes, it is, but it has to be done in a way that matters to the people that make the purchasing decision. Most business owners don't know the difference between UX and UI, hell most people who ascribe the title to themselves don't even know the difference.

It's like the pointless variants of toothpaste:

  • Anti-cavity (shouldn't all toothpaste be anti-cavity?)
  • Breath freshening (no shit, is the alternative a toothpaste that makes my breath smell bad?)
  • Fighting Gingivitis (isn't that the job of floss?)
  • Daily Repair (what else is it supposed to do?)

The only variant of toothpaste that makes sense to a user is when it speaks to a particular need of theirs. Like sensitive teeth being addressed by Sensodyne, who focused on people with this issue entirely.

Now let's apply the same thinking to some of these design titles:

  • Design Researcher (shouldn't all design be based on research?)
  • Digital Designer (if you use a computer and you're a designer, you are a digital designer)
  • UX Designer (99% of the world doesn't know what you do and the term user experience is applicable to everything)
  • UI Designer (isn't this the same as graphic design except digital?)

Here's the thing: these titles do nothing for the person on the other side of the table, you know that person who pays money for design services.

What's the solution you ask? Try this:
I'm a designer, I craft things with intention. I've got a portfolio of work and case studies to show the problems I solve. Do any of these sound like you? Cool, let's make something happen.

More you say?

Beliefs Over Expectations

When told you have to do things, listen to your gut.

1.29.2020

I met with Rocky Roark, a local illustrator in San Diego yesterday (here is a link to his work, enjoy!). As we conversed over Topo Chico and coconut cream iced tea, marketing came up. Rocky has over 40k followers on Instagram and he was shocked I had not made use of the platform for business. It's done a lot of good for him financially. Despite his success, it's still not going to be a part of my life anytime soon.

Here's why: I believe that platforms like Instagram and Facebook have made human social interaction harder and less authentic. The evidence for this is staggering suicide rates and anecdotal tales of the platforms being used to showcase what we wish our life was like rather than connecting with people. It's a mechanism that has propelled isolation and narcissism to heights we could not have anticipated.

I do not like those things. Not everyone, especially not Rocky, uses those platforms that way, but the evidence is overwhelmingly clear that loneliness and depression have skyrocketed parallel to the rise of social media. The thing is, people like Rocky are the exception and not the rule when it comes to those platforms.

I believe the world would be better if those platforms were used less. Granted, my view isn't going to change the fact that millions of people use them everyday, but it doesn't matter. I still believe that to be true. This doesn't mean I have a distaste for people who use the platform. I don't drink alcohol either, but have no problem with anyone who does. It's simply not for me. I'd rather drive to three networking events per week, meet 5 people, and spend 45 minutes talking with each one of them.

Here's the thing:

Have some conviction. If you feel strongly about something, don't let the expectations of others change that. Stand up for it. Defend your thinking. Be a champion for something different. Be a rebel.

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Hobo Haircut

If you're annoyed with the way investors and potential customers see you, this will help.

3.25.2020

Nothing could be more discouraging than pitching your heart and soul to investors or having a potential customer visit your site only to hear them say it looked unprofessional. Ouch. It sucks because you put time and effort into your products and services, but because you had a poorly constructed deck, a shitty website, janky business cards, you were perceived as incompetent and unworthy of their time. Despite your capabilities, you got kicked in the teeth based on presentation.

Two harsh truths are coming:

We live in a shallow world, flooded with messages and things asking for our attention. It is not the fault of other people that they make shallow judgements in an effort to stave off wasting their time and energy.

You can bitch and complain about how people shouldn't judge your startup by its looks, but you won't change anything. So suck it up and roll with it.

What do you need? You need a haircut. Something to turn that hairy mess of ideas and thoughts you have into something presentable and trustworthy. Just like the guy in this video:

Even from the thumbnail. Simply cleaning him up makes him appear more trustworthy and dependable. However, unlike this guy, your startup is not an alcoholic and is ready to get out there and make something for other people. Tired of investors and customers not trusting you with their time and money? Make yourself appear more trustworthy.

Also, good luck not crying and laughing during this video.

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