Welcome to the 17th edition of Designer’s Digest. Let me ask you something: do you sometimes feel that your design job is a bit of a bullshit job? You want to do what’s good for the users and you’re truly empathetic towards them but then your manager asks you to design something that goes against that? Why do they do that? Let’s explore that in this edition.
In this edition:
- Aspekta (a flexible, variable sans-serif font)
- The fake aura of care in UX (9 min read)
- Mage icons (250+ beautiful, open-source icons)
How are you? No really, how are you? When was the last time you stopped and thought about this? It’s so easy to get busy and overwhelmed with everything happening around us. We rarely take the time to stop and reflect. Look around and appreciate the things in our life.
When does all the rushing stop? I was a couple of days into my very first job when my father suddenly passed away. I couldn’t even take the time off to mourn (the laws in Slovenia say that you need to work for at least 3 months to be eligible for taking time off). I could only take the day off to go to the funeral. I was so stressed out about my new job that I never really processed what had happened. I just rushed back in.
Today marks one year since my grandmother passed away. That’s more than 10 years later but have I learned anything? I was on sick leave, recovering from burnout when it happened. I got back to work shortly after that only to be put under pressure in the very first week after returning. My manager told me that I needed to improve my performance. She knew exactly what situation I was in but still decided to put extra weight on my shoulders.
Again, I was so stressed out about keeping my job that I had no time to process what had happened. Then my wife got pregnant with twins. I haven’t had a moment to stop and take care of myself ever since. It got even worse after I got laid off from that shitty job because of that incompetent manager. I’ve been scrambling and rushing to get my life back in order but forgetting to do one crucial thing — stop and appreciate the only grandmother I had who had such an influential role in my life. Stop and appreciate my wife and our newborn twins and the joy they brought into my life, right when I needed it the most. Stop and reflect, and be grateful.
Today I stop and think about my grandmother and everything she meant to me. But even more importantly I stop and appreciate my wife, my children and the remaining members of my family. I’ll remind myself that they’re also impermanent so that I’ll enjoy and appreciate every moment with them. As I stop to do those things I also stop to take care of myself. I hope you will too.
Aspekta is a beautiful, open source, sans-serif font by Ivo Dolenc. It looks great in all caps but please use that sparingly. It’s highly flexible with a lot of alternative characters, and it’s also variable. Download it on GitHub.
The fake aura of care in UX
Now let’s return to the topic of designers not being able to do their job properly. Have you ever done something you knew wasn’t good design but you did it anyway? Maybe you did it because your manager asked you to? Or maybe you just weren’t given a choice? Why is it that we have usability, accessibility, and responsive web design standards but companies only decide to comply with them when it’s for their own good? Why aren’t the users the real beneficiaries? Steven Farrugia calls this out in his brilliant article on Medium.
We discussed this topic in DESIGNR, my Slack community for designers. I think Niklas gives a great example:
When a great UX designer at Facebook tries to make you scroll through the feed for longer than you intended, is that good design?
By company metrics it is. But it’s not really good for the user. It’s like a drug dealer pushing more drugs to his customer. The dealer is happy because they sold more but the customer just got closer to overdosing. I’m so fed up with executives talking about how usability is important (they think UX/Product design is basically just that — improving usability) but then making decisions that do the exact opposite.
Why are designers getting so misused and their skills abused? The tech industry, and the UX with it, is so full of fake empathy, care, and toxic positivity, that if you call it out you get outcast. Or maybe even worse, you get laid off. Does this happen because junior designers can’t stand up to their superiors?
Designing socially beneficial products is something to strive for, but not something that should weigh on the shoulders of a junior UX designer while their manager is asking them to draw a dark pattern in Figma.
— Stephen Farrugia
Or is it because designers themselves also just don’t care? It’s probably a mix of different factors but one thing is certain: we the designers are often just peddlers bringing to life bad designs that are pushed onto us. So I have a question for you: is the UX industry really just a bullshit industry? Stephen concludes his article beautifully:
UX needs to make clear distinctions between commercial design work and design as a social good so the aura of care is not just an aura. Until that happens we’ll continue to see the worst companies hire the best people to help them make the worst things.
I accidentally found this beautiful, open-source collection of 250+ icons the other day. They come in stroke or bulk variants as well as light and dark. You can even search them by their keywords. This is great for when you need to mock up something quickly and just need to grab an icon or even if you want to use the whole collection in your product.
When you’re ready, there are two ways I can help you right now:
- Join my Slack community to interact with 300+ designers that have similar problems as you (Still free at the moment)
- Find and get your dream UX/Product Design job — my UX portfolio course to help designers progress in their careers
That’s it for this Monday, have a great week! And remember to stop and take care of yourself sometimes 👋
P.S. Do you want to sponsor this newsletter and get around 20k eyeballs on your product? Send me an email and let’s talk.