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5 Key Differences Between Junior and Senior Designers

by Hannah Pugh

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We take a closer look at the key skills that define product, UX, and UI designers at each stage of their career. 

The path to becoming a great designer can be complex. It’s a path built on a wide range of experiences, a strong foundation of technical skills, and a wide range of learning opportunities. What’s more, time served isn’t the only consideration when it comes to becoming the best designer you can be. Great designers must be prepared to constantly update their skills, refine their approach, and expand their knowledge.

We take a closer look at the 5 key differences between junior and senior designers, below: 

1. Senior designers take ownership and see the big picture

As a junior designer, it’s easy to get caught up in eagerness to please or pressure to get the job done. When you ask for a deadline and it seems impossible – you simply find a way to make it happen. Senior designers are much more likely to negotiate a deadline based on realistic timescales and with an eye as to how this task will fit into the wider project. By shifting from a task-based mentality to a project-based mentality, designers can grow in maturity. 

2. Junior designers may not have found their specialism

There are some great generalists out there, but most designers have an area where they excel. Junior designers may not yet have chosen the niche they want to pursue as they move forward with their careers. This is why seeking out exposure to different skills and ways of working is a key stepping stone to success. Once you understand your niche, you can embrace it, building a depth of knowledge that helps you to stand out amongst your peers. 

3. Experienced designers explain their work 

As a junior designer, it’s easy to think that a finished task is a job done. This means you may send work to a senior colleague or client without taking the time to provide a rationale. Senior designers know that context is everything and that failing to provide an explanation for design choices can leave your work open to misinterpretation and confusion. It’s vital to really think about your design choices and to be prepared to present them in a mindful way. 

4. New designers often don’t think beyond the brief

Junior designers sometimes lack the experience to look beyond the parameters of the task they are set. In contrast, senior designers have the deeper knowledge and experience necessary to challenge and, where appropriate, to work beyond the brief to produce a design with greater functionality or improved user flow. Knowing how to navigate the fine line between getting a job done and providing the greatest value is a skill that is honed over time. 

5. Senior designers solve complex problems 

All designers hit occasional roadblocks. But it is under this sort of pressure that senior designers can show their worth. They present potential solutions alongside the biggest challenges, while junior colleagues may be unsure how to approach or shape their response to more complex problems. Junior designers can build their complex problem-solving skills by gaining experience across a range of disciplines and paying close attention to the way talented senior designers approach difficult tasks. 

Are you a junior designer looking to take a step up? Or a mid-level or senior designer looking for your next challenge? Visit our creative recruitment page to explore our current creative vacancies to find a role that could help you to grow your design career.