Traits of the best UX + UI Designers

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Traits of a UI / UX Designer

Over the years Daniel de la Cruz (Co Founder @ ChangeLab23) has worked with 100s of Designers. He tells us why there is a re-occurring pattern of good traits in those Designers who are true masters of their work…

Here is what he found…

Traditionally ‘creative’ designers were associated with chaotic approaches to coming up with the big idea. That may still be good in some instances and most relevant for the advertising industry, but the best UX + UI designers are organised. This is often an overlooked trait, but makes a big difference when working on complex design projects.

The best designers:

– Use a logical structure of layers and precise layer names in Photoshop files
– Will not start a design without having a well defined grid
– Understand the need for an organised file folder structure
– Are consistent with paddings and margins where relevant
– Have a good plan for image sizes and module sizes to reduce development time


Great designers have the discipline not to jump right into the shiny stuff (here’s a good article I recently read on medium about this topic:

The best designers:

– Draw up detailed user journey diagrams to really understand the steps people take through the system
– Invest time in creating wireframes that clearly communicate functionality, content needs and hierarchy
– Really understand why these deliverables are important and are happy to take the time to educate people

Wide knowledge

It’s not anymore just about understanding topics such as typography and colour theory. The lines between design, business and technology have become blurred and the best designers have gone through the experience of getting their hands dirty with business model canvases and at some point even tried coding (although it is debatable whether designers should be investing their time into learning how to code, regardless if it’s front-end or back-end).

The best designers:

– Spend time really understanding the needs of the business they are working with/at
– Constantly ask ‘why?’, to understand the full picture
– Have the experience of putting together a business model canvas
– Are able to lead through the creation of a business model canvas
– Understand when something needs to be done quickly, but also understand how to pitch ‘the next iteration’
– ‘Get’ that websites and applications are evolving products and have no need to cramp all their best ideas into the first iteration
– Understand the technology that empowers their designs


Exceptional designer care deeply for the people that will interact with the design and being supportive of their needs. But they also have a good sense for when a need is just a ‘confusion’ best left unresolved.

The best designers:

– Empathise deeply with the users of the site
– Empathise with developers and content producers alike
– Realise quickly when an idea does not solve the problems of others and are just as quick to let go
– Understand the needs of others, but are also able to consult if those needs are not aligned with the best possible outcome
– Are understanding but also authoritative
– Do nothing, if it doesn’t need anything
– But know when it’s worth fighting the battle


Being creative is not just about coming up with new ideas of how things look at interface level, it’s also about coming up with ideas to solve problems at any level.

The best designers:

– Quickly grasp at what level ideation needs to happen and will come up with creative solutions at all levels
– Do not have a ‘one-way only style’ and are able re-invent their designs in any direction
– Can trigger both reactions:
“Ah yes I get it, it’s like…”
“This is new and nothing like anything I’ve seen before, I really like the way…”

Good consultants

Most outstanding designers are able to consult and are really good at selling their design. Sometimes things proposed by non-designers are simply wrong and the best designers know how to steer people into the right direction

The best designers:

– Know why they have made the decision to design it ‘that way’ and constantly ask themselves ‘why am I doing it like this’
– Are able to convince and win arguments when it’s the right way to go
– Have good soft skills
– Are not afraid to challenge the most authoritative person in the room

Connect with Daniel on LinkedIn