Dealing with UX Designer Imposter Syndrome

Faking it, until you make it as a less experienced designer

When you’re first starting out in design, it can be exciting and scary at the same time. Exciting because you finally get to do something that will hopefully change the lives of millions of users. Scary because you know you’re a complete noob and it’s only a matter of time before everyone knows.

Here are common things I hear from less experienced designers and my response to them.

“My work isn’t good enough”

No, your work is probably not that good. Let’s face it, any designer first starting out is going to have mediocre work. However, don’t be bummed out because it happens to everyone who starts something new. The only way to get better is to DO more work and get feedback from your peers, preferably more senior designers. This work doesn’t have to be for actual clients either — go and find a company you want to work for and find a problem they are facing and conduct a case study with research, design, and testing.

“No one will hire me without real experience”

It is true that companies will not flock to you because you put on your Linkedin that you’re a UX Designer. You will need to show that you can do the job. Do some free work for a friend’s website, build it out into a case study, and create an online portfolio showcasing that work. This can be coded by hand or find a template on check out the portfolio templates on Squarespace. Companies want to see that you’ve done related work, whether it’s real or not. They want to understand your PROCESS and the way you THINK.

“I’m not as ‘creative’ as other designers”

What is creativity nowadays? Is it bright gradients or animating illustrations? Browsing on sites like Dribbble and Behance can make you feel inadequate, but most of the designs on those sites haven’t seen the light of day and are just there to be visually-pleasing.

Creativity comes out of a need. Find a need and you’ll be surprised of the things you can think of to solve for that need.

Fake it until you make it

You may feel rejected, inadequate, and doubtful about your design work. When looking at your past work or even your current work, you probably see that it’s not as good as it could be, but you don’t know how to make it better. This is your “design eye” coming out and saying that it’s not good enough. The more you do, see, read, write, the more your actual designs will come closer to your “design eye”. You WILL get better.