When you design for the web, what parameters are you designing for? Aesthetics? Reuse? Sign up? Clicks? Reuse? Conversion rate?

The rookie designer

What separates the seasoned and mature designer from the rookie is the end goal. The rookie designer designs for aesthetics as this is what got him interested in the first place. He lurks around CSS galleries to spot new clever ways to design yet unknown to the masses. His end goal is to astonish and make his peers go ‘WOW’.

The main problem with the rookie designer his end goal. He designs for his peers rather than for the end user, and for aesthetics rather than whatever the true goal of the design is. The rookie designer will make something beautiful and aesthetically great, but will at the same time overwhelm, surprise, and confuse the actual end user.

The seasoned and mature designer

The mature designer knows what he is designing: user experience rather than graphics. He also knows that good user experience only makes sense with a target. A good design can be measured, as the end goal has been made clear from the beginning. A mature designer knows what criteria will make his design a success – whether it is sign up, re-use, more clicks/page-views, reuse of design elements, to sell products, or in any other way increase a conversion rate.

The seasoned designer knows his toolbox well. He knows what works for what purpose and what does not. He spends his time on make the experience work instead of making the website “blink”. He is designing the experience so that nothing can go wrong instead of designing what could be cool if it worked. He is sticking to the patterns he has learned over time.

Anders Toxboe Author

Based out of Copenhagen, Denmark, Anders Toxboe is a Product Discovery coach and trainer, helping both small and big clients get their product right. He also founded UI-Patterns.com and a series of other projects. Follow Anders at @uipatternscom.


  • Brad Pyne on Oct 27, 2009

    This is definitely something I continue to struggle with. Sometimes you have to take a step back and question whether the steps you’ve taken actually work towards your original objective. Great points, will be checking back in the future.

  • Ashish on Nov 09, 2009

    Rightly said. The design becomes all the more important when you are spending money to drive clicks to your website. Every visitor has a cost associated with him/her and we know that not all translate into value. It is essential that all the elements of a website like design, display, layout, call to action, marketing offer, uniqueness of the offer, sales pitch of the copy should contribute their bit towards that value driven approach.

  • cable hdmi on Nov 13, 2009

    As i know, Rookie Designer is very informative and motivating. I am a freelance Graphic Designer myself and have had troubles with aspects of my business. However Seasoned Designer offers creative web solutions with the experience and ability to be able to make your website a highly functional part of your business.

  • Casting Rods on Nov 23, 2009

    Seasonal designers are just to help you out with certain aspects of your business. Whereas Rookie designers are always there supporting you with the best they can.

  • Pelvic Surgery on Jan 05, 2010

    This is an interesting comparison between seasoned and rookie designers, I really like the way you have put across your points. :)

  • Sebastian Stockmarr on Jan 12, 2010

    Good post, I agree 100% percent! But in my opinion there is more than 100% to design.
    I’m not saying that one should justify worse values over several valid metrics with “it looks better”.
    But you can’t measure happiness, affection or joy of use. This might come to show, in some of the metrics, but then again, maybe it won’t.
    In some cases it might be the opposite, where you loose page views, but people actually start to appreciate your site more, because it requires less clicks for them to get what they want.
    Inefficiencies, such as personality in copy, can be the difference between the experience you provide and the experience everybody else provides.

    I’m not trying to bash the post, just felt that the aspect of aesthetic got undermined a bit.

  • Corey - The Graphic Design Hound on Aug 13, 2010

    This is very true Mr. Anders. I remember when I used to be like the rookie designer.

    While it is good to create something that “pops”, you still need to keep in mind what purpose the design will serve.

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