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343: Over and Undervalued Design Skills

April 22, 2020

This week, we introduce a new supporter-only show segment, The Sidebar. Each week we'll be sharing a story, pro-tip, shortcut, or design-related cool thing. Supporters on Patreon will hear the first story today!

We also discuss the most over and undervalued design skills, including feedback from folks on Twitter.

And, of course, we share our cool finds of the week!

Golden Ratio Patrons:

We're looking for partners to work with. If your team is hiring, launching a new product, or wants us to get the word out about a new initiative, please get in touch!

Latest VIP Patrons:

Huge shoutouts to our latest Very Important Pixels!

  • Ritu Maghera
  • Jacob Lindström
  • Dave Epstein
  • Dan
  • Omar Hassan
  • Marco
  • Lars Anttila

The Sidebar:

We've been behind on Bonusland, and it's been a challenge for us to catch up. Additionally, we felt like bonus episodes were too infrequent and not compelling enough as a Patreon reward.

This week we're starting a new experiment to make the patron rewards much better. It's a new segment of every episode called The Sidebar. In The Sidebar we will be sharing a story, pro-tip, shortcut, or design-related tidbit.

In today's Sidebar, we talk about Marshall's 8-year anniversary at Google, and what it means to play the long game.

Read more about how we ended up here + the inspiration by way of Michael Knepprath.


  • Elvin was the only listener who shared screenshots of early work with us - and it was good work!
  • Second call to action: send us your early portfolio work that you're ashamed of!

Listener Question:

  • Paweł Sysiak asks a hat-trick listener question:
  • "What are the most valuable (and overlooked) skills for the entry-level designer and senior designer? The flip side of this question is also interesting. What skills are overvalued for junior and senior designers?"
    • The Mom Test is a great primer on how to ask better research questions.
    • We asked Twitter for ideas, too:
    • T says: "Most valuable for entry: Taste, attention to details, ready to listen, motivation. Senior: ready to learn, adapt, question past experience and delegate"
    • Nathan Lindhal says: "Learning to communicate with stakeholders, peers, etc is an extremely valuable skill. But it would be unfair to expect this from entry level position. But knowing the fundamentals (can this person do the work) and a commitment to improvement are underrated."
    • Ollie hit us with a thread:
      • "I think foundational design skills like typography hierarchy are underrated, whilst beautiful portfolios are overrated."
      • "I think it would be unfair to expect such strong communication skills from all entry-level designers, I think it is perhaps the most valuable skill."
      • "Communication as a skill can be a 'buzz word-y' so i'll specify. I think an entry-level designer that can join a team and comfortably question the status quo and speak out when they are unsure is a highly valuable trait."
      • "In my (limited) experience it takes the weight off of their supporting mid/senior designers. It's also an important component to entry-level designers learning on the job."
    • Emma Gilbert says: "Most valuable: resourcefulness. There are unknowns at some point of every project. If a person can find momentum on their own by seeking out and not waiting for answers, that’s someone I want to work with."
    • Jordan Koschei says: "The ability to communicate clearly verbally, through writing, and through visuals. And the ability to understand and translate between design, engineering, and business concerns. The best designers have some product management DNA too!"

Cool Things:

  • Brian shared The Matrix, one of those rare films that holds the fuck up. If you have somehow not seen this, now is the time. What a ride!
  • Marshall shared the return of Apple's Build Your Collection promo, featuring awesome films at steep discounts. If you're a movie-buyer, now's the time to strike!

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