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Ben Holliday is an experienced design leader, writer and speaker. This is his blog (started in 2005). If you’re new to this site, Ben has published a playbook for design linking together many of his blog posts from the past 5 years. You can book him to speak at an event, get in touch or follow him on Twitter.

All blog posts in Seniority in design

Fingerprints

Fingerprints are everywhere. They’re hard to see and hard to remove.

A lot of design work is realignment. And we can all be more intentional about where we leave our fingerprints.

It’s easy to worry about how visible your contribution is. Sometimes people won’t be directly aware of your work.

Seniority in design: superpowers

Build on your limitations, make them your strengths.

I really like the work the Home Office design and research teams have taken the lead on, illustrating the importance of accessible design. The statement that first caught my attention here was:

We are all only temporarily not disabled.

Different ways of leading design: face to face, or side by side

To follow on from my last blog post about leading sideways, here’s an example of how I work best.

I’m naturally more comfortable having a conversation about design, or leading a design process, standing side by side with people, rather than face to face.

Seniority in Design: feedback loops

When thinking about seniority in design, how to manage or ask for feedback is important.

As a designer you’re only as good as your feedback loops

Feedback is something you have to find as a designer. It’s something you have to be proactive about. As a rule, I think that everyone should be looking for feedback all the time.

Seniority in Design: leading sideways

Some more thoughts on design leadership and positioning (where you lead from).

You can lead from the side, not just from the front

Sometimes the intention to lead is enough. You can hold yourself to that responsibility, even when you’re not seen as a leader by others in your organisation.

It’s okay to be a design leader

I’m encouraged by the number of people talking about how they are taking on more responsibility to lead design. Emma’s blog post was great about her decision to take on a new role, and Ale’s call out to bring together more people in lead design roles has had a great response. 

Seniority in Design: personal responsibility

Seniority in design is about personal responsibility.

A disclaimer to start with. While everyone can take personal responsibility, not everyone has the same circumstances, privilege or types of choices to make when doing so.

But, whatever your situation, everyone can can take personal responsibility for their work as a designer.

Seniority in design: empathy both ways

Design leadership requires different types of empathy.

We often talk about about the importance of having empathy with end users. These are the people we’re designing for, and the immediate goal for teams working in this way is to understand how people are feeling, as well as what they might be thinking or doing in a given situation.

Seniority in design: proximity and closeness

As you become a more senior designer with responsibility for other designers, one of the challenges you will face is your personal closeness to ‘hands on’ design work.

As well as how close you are to the work, you will have to think about the proximity you have to those doing the hands on work when that isn’t you.

Seniority, anxiety and dealing with confidence issues

A short follow up to my blog post about seniority in design.