Experience Designers Working

XD Team Roundtable Part 1: What Makes an Experience Designer Successful?

Note: This is the first of a 2-part series and will offer advice for those wanting to build their careers as an XD pro.

The formula for being a successful XD professional begins with a strong mix of creativity, empathy, and resiliency. Today we’re going to pick the brains of our Experience Design team and hear some thoughts and advice on what makes them tick, and how their creative designs happen.

Let’s give it a go!


What one talent do you find most useful as an XD pro?

Dolan Kutzman, Art Director: I've always found the ability to draw to be very useful. Being able to quickly and accurately visualize what's in your head can be very helpful for your team or the client. Whether it's a simple composition for a web layout, a storyboard for an animation, or just a quick sketch of an illustration, the ability to capture that on paper helps everyone in the process.

Lacey Meehan, Sr. Art Director: Creating campaign/brand elements with the ability to scale and tell a story.

Alyssa Sopko, Graphic Designer: To me the most important talent or trait when it comes to being an experience designer is the ability to create design that is purposeful.

Matt Borrelli, Sr. Art Director: I think I have a good ability to strip away the clutter of project and find the core problem that needs to be solved and/or communicated by the end product. This foundation drives the design, making the process easier and is really the core of any successful user experience.


What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your job?

Lacey: Since technology and trends change so rapidly, no one fully knows what they’re doing. I've learned to adapt quickly to the ever-changing industry standards. Another lesson has been understanding how critical it is to clearly present the meaning and purpose of my design decisions–clients want to see the thought process so they can feel validated in their investment.

Alyssa: When I first got out of college, I believed that I was not good at presenting. I had a perception of myself that I was too shy to ever be good at speaking to a group. But then I started to question that belief. I realized that I had never even given myself a chance to try and improve that skill because in my mind, I had already decided I wasn’t good at it. The biggest lesson I learned is to leave room in your identity for growth. Do not keep your perception of yourself so set in stone.

Matt: It's more important how something works than how it looks. Show your clients and peers that you think like a marketer first and a designer second. They will learn to trust your design choices. Also, know when to be flexible and when to challenge a client request that will decrease the effectiveness of the work. When it's time to push back, start your response with, "Yes, but..."

Dolan: The biggest lesson I've learned is to not take creative feedback personally or get too attached to your work. Design can be really subjective at times, and you have to learn to separate yourself from the work so you can understand how the client is perceiving it.


How has your design technique/mindset changed over the past year or so?

Alyssa: Over the years I have learned so much by seeing what the other designers I work with do. They are so talented and I’m always learning from them. Whether it’s the way they conceptualize an idea for a project or how they meticulously organize their design process, they have helped me improve the way I work!

Matt: Be super careful that your marketing does not come across as taking advantage of unfortunate situations people find themselves in, like a pandemic for example.

Dolan: Over the past year or two I've tried to be less of a perfectionist so I can work faster and ultimately be more creative and efficient.

Lacey: I am more focused on the organization of project tasks. This has given me more freedom to take the lead on certain projects from a design perspective.


What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?

Matt: Using new technology to create different types of user experiences. Hopefully continuing to teach the important stuff I've learned along the way to younger creatives.

Dolan: I see myself working on more creative and complex animations, and potentially leading a small team of animators.

Lacey: Art directing is something I can see myself always doing, but I hope to also develop my illustration skills so I can create content from scratch.

Alyssa: In five years I hope to be designing great work, trying new types of design projects and overall continuing to grow my understanding of design.


More to Come!

That wraps up Part 1, please stay tuned for the second part of our designer’s roundtable.

You can also check out other articles on the Liquid Blog for more industry thoughts, insights, and expertise and don’t hesitate to contact us with any question about your digital marketing future.