37signals is known for developing world-class collaboration tools and providing insightful commentary on business, culture, and the web. In this post, co-founder and president Jason Fried explains why evaluating a designer is more than just looking at who they are today.
As you read the post, consider how leading technology companies are thinking about potential in design hiring.
Prolificness is one of the strongest indicators of a new designer’s potential. When your portfolio demonstrates the consistent and frequent practice of design, you’re expressing drive, passion, and a willingness to learn under imperfect conditions. It also suggests a fast-growing skill set that will continue to rapidly improve.
Jessica Hische is a prolific letterer and illustrator known as much for her side projects as her client work. Examine this broad collection of her “procrastiwork”, which ranges from educational material to creative flexing. What can you design independently to expand your own body of work?
Design interviews often require you to talk through your process or complete an exercise on the spot. Being able to speak precisely and passionately about your intent will show potential employers who you are as a designer—and who you have the capacity become.
The foundation of a great process is asking the right questions, which will often illuminate the right solutions. This article discusses questions to consider during each stage of the design process. As you begin your next project, ask yourself: Who is this for? What do they want from it, and how can I emphasize those things?
Before we arrive at a finished design, we often discard concepts, prototypes, and sketches that helped us get to the final product. Capturing and sharing that work can show our design thinking and build a narrative around what we create.
As an example, I’m sharing some of my own process. This is an article I wrote a few years ago, discussing how I designed a layout from scratch. This has become part of my portfolio and I’ve used it repeatedly to get new clients and full-time work. As you work on your next design project, save and review those artifacts from your process. What story do they tell?
A couple weeks ago, I was having coffee with a friend who brought up a talk by a designer he admired. It was so articulate, moving, and useful that he asked the designer how he pulled it together. The secret? The designer developed and rehearsed it over six months. The talk was Wilson Miner’s “When We Build”, which I’ve included as an example of the power of relentless practice.
Every design interview is configured differently—there may be critique, collaboration, or a presentation—so ask what to expect and come outrageously prepared. Put more effort into nailing it than anyone would reasonably expect. When you’re just starting out, that’s the only way to make it look easy.