5 Things I Learned from the Viget Design Team
Lillian Liu, Former Design Intern
Beginning mid-June, I started my time as a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed design intern at Viget. Over the course of 10 weeks, I picked the brains of the talented design team here and have learned a few things - very evident through my now brimming Evernote notebook titled, “MY VIGET SUMMER”
Though it’s nearly impossible to record everything, I’ve picked out 5 relevant points, summarized here:
1) Share your work
I’ve learned that it’s important to share your work, whether it’s a finished design or even a work in progress. When I was a senior in high school, I had an art teacher that became terribly upset one day when I came in with a magically finished painting because she never saw my process.
You can’t get away with that at Viget, where there are weekly design standups in which designers come together to share their progress on various projects. Whether it’s through a quick screenshot on Slack or face-to-face through standups, I love how designers can come together to offer opinions, encouragement, or constructive suggestions. By sharing your work, you can considerably amplify your performance because there are people offering different perspectives beyond your own. Getting feedback as you go is important so that you can produce your best work.
2) Critiques are not sandwiches
As we are on the topic of feedback, let me say one thing- Critiques are not sandwiches.
A typography professor once told me that critiques are like sandwiches. You say something nice in the beginning, something nice at the end, and then sandwich whatever “bad” things you need to say in the middle. Design students nowadays are getting soft. There should be no such thing as bad feedback. While it’s important to distinguish which things should be taken with a grain of salt, we shouldn’t shy away from things that we need to hear.
Critiques are not sandwiches but rather something a little more exciting, ice cream cones. Through Viget, I realized that this is a food analogy that is a better fit. A way that you can help another designer is to provide feedback in three layers. For the cone, you tell the designer what is working. What is good about the design? For the main bit, the ice cream ball, you point out what aspects of the design could be improved. What is the design lacking? And finally for the toppings, you can distinguish what the designer can do moving forward.
Not only is it a better analogy, but it’s also sweeter.
3) Your design community is your everything
The design community at Viget communicates in different ways. Oftentimes, communication happens through Slack channels where designers share their work, their latest inspirations, and funny gifs. Sometimes, designers gather to debate about a specific topic- “Hey, how can we better find opportunities to incorporate illustration into our designs?”
Your design community is important because it’s made up of people who will encourage you during hard times (design droughts). They will also keep you accountable to produce your very best design work. One of the best quotes that I can recall from a 1:1 with another designer is this, “Challenge your comrades. A good designer will not only give back what was asked of them, but will produce something even better.”
Your community can help you grow!
4) Presentation is underrated
A skill that is seriously underrepresented in design education today is the ability to present, and to present well. I definitely tried to focus a lot of my attention on presentation this summer.
It seems that the ingredients that lead to good presentation, according to Peyton, are these: confidence, brevity, and excitement.
Confidence is key. If you’re not confident in your work, then why should your client trust you? Coming prepared (e.g. practice runs, presentation checks) can help with this.
Brevity. Keeping it short and sweet is important since attention can only span so far. It’s important to understand what is relevant and in the big picture.
Be excited! Your excitement on a project can help everyone (your teammates and your clients included) be excited too. It’s clear when you’re excited to share your solutions.
Another important thing is to reiterate your goals constantly. By focusing and linking your design decisions back to the big picture, presentation can go much more smoothly.
5) Have fun with It
Incorporate fun into your work, and you’ll always be happy. One of the biggest things that I learned at is that the way that you approach a project will affect your perception of the outcome. In addition to team goals and client goals, you can add your own personal goals to a project and keep challenging yourself. It’s all about perspective.
Of course I can’t quantify all the knowledge that I have gained into 5 points, but I can definitely say that all the mentorship that I’ve received during this internship has helped me become a much better designer. Moving forward from this, I know it’s important to keep questioning, to keep practicing, and to continue learning.