So, I have about 10 years of experience now. I started as a graphic designer during university, moved on to owning my own company, back to full-time senior product designer, then contractor UX/UI designer and now agency owner. Yes, I know! It's a lot, trust me, I've learned quite a bit and I am here to make sure you learn faster than I did.

Now to get into the actual subject, after my long background explanation, here are my top 5 things that I wish I knew before starting this long journey. 

1.Technology evolves fast

You need to make peace with the idea that technology is a fast learning and always learning type of industry, so don't get too attached to PhotoshopFigmaSketch etc. There will always be something new and efficient coming out, and you will learn it quickly so don't worry. You will have to change your mentality and when something new comes out, try it and then judge it. Don't say things like, no I like my programme and it does the job! I got used to photoshop even though I didn't like it and when sketch came out I ignored and wasted sooooo much of my life, doing things the hard way. Believe me you spend way less time on learning a new skill, than if you keep the old one and try to use it on new technology and on new products. Even now for example, I've decided to go from Premier Pro to Final Cut Pro for my youtube videos. Again this is a new industry for me but I am applying what I've learned and taken people's advice to become better at this.

2.Learn how to sell yourself

It's not enough to have a top-notch portfolio. You need to know how to present your portfolio. I wish I knew this at my first interview where I simply thought that my portfolio will do the talking. Like here it is! Isn't it wonderful, please hire me?! No, no, no, no. You need to talk about each project, what was the spec and what difficulties you found while creating the designs and user experience, and how you tackled those problems and difficulties. Again don't start mumbling on and on about your cat and your grandmother, try to be concise and clear and cover at least your top three projects that you are most proud of. This also shows your employer that you can talk about your designs with shareholders, developers and so on. 

3.You're a designer, not an artist

The golden rule. As a UX/UI designer, you are not paid to draw pretty nice things. You are paid to solve a problem and to make that company money. If you need to change a pretty illustration with a button because it will mean that customers will buy more, you do it. The customer cannot spend all day looking at the wonderful designs, he or she needs to find things quickly, like products and buy now buttons. Again, you will get to this through years and years of practice, but the sooner you realise your true purpose as a designer, the better, and the faster you will understand why UX/UI designers are paid so much. 

4.Know your audience

Continuing on the golden rule, another thing you should know from the beginning is to never start designing or sketching before you truly understand your target audience. And for this, you have different tools online, that show you a roadmap that you have to take. Like checking our your competitors, doing some user research, asking the right questions, user testing, building up your persona which is the person who is most likely to buy your product and so on. I wish I knew this because a lot of times I will get ahead of myself and try to impress the boss, but I would have to re-do most of my work after the first meeting with the project manager, or the stakeholders etc. 

5.Mistakes are inevitable

Don't be afraid to make mistakes, or to try something new. This is the industry where you want to do it and where you will pop out from the crowd. If you come with initiatives and new ideas people will eventually recommend you for other projects, even to other companies and you will be able to grow as an individual and as a designer. I've kept most of my contacts because of this, not being afraid to get my hands dirty, do the work and try new things. 

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