Great products don't spring from great designers like Athena from the skull of Zeus; instead, they were usually the result of a lot of trial and error, missteps and blind alleys, and hard work and deep thinking. There's no secret sauce. Great designers aren't those with the most natural talent, or the smartest, or can draw the best. Great designers are those who've designed great products, period. And the only way to design those is the hard way. And while you might have a vision of how the product should be right from the start, it takes a lot of work to get it right. You have to explore. You have to prototype. You have to test. You have to see it live. You have to see someone using it. Only then do you get a refined design. No one gets it right the first time. - Dan Saffer
When I had just started designing, I did not know this. How could I? I had never gone to an art or design school. I did not have a fancy degree in new media design or anything that would qualify me to have any idea of how it is done. I was simply a student at an engineering college who loved to design (at least what I thought design was at that point of time). I thought everyone who was a great designer today must have learnt it at school. That everyone who was any good must have read lots of books so that they knew how to come up with great designs. For of course my designs were shitty. God I still feel they are shitty when I look at my designs from six months back.
So I did what any person in my place would do. I kept asking every good designer for tips. Tried to strike a conversation with anyone who would talk back. I even managed to get blocked on Twitter by a few who are now very good friends of mine. Just so that I could learn a bit more than what I had the day before. I asked around for books, magazines and read every design blog religiously. While it did help, my designs were no close to being good, forget greatness.
I still do not know what it was, but one day, I just got fed up and thought to myself, maybe whatever little I know, is probably enough for me to start taking smaller projects. Just to see if I had improved. That was the best decision I had ever made.
It turns out, by far the best way to be a great designer is to start being one. Go out there and design. Find something that sucks? How would you change it? What if you could think of some constraints that the original designers had. Does your solution still work? Keep doing this again and again. You will fall, and hurt it will. You will have moments when you would feel you are the worst designer ever. I still do on most of the days. But there is no other way to do it. If you want to be the very best at what you do, just go out and do it. Keep doing it till you say 'Huh! That kinda looks rad'.
Also, no matter how good you get, there will always be someone who is better than you. Always. And that's ok. That is important because it makes you tick. As long as it is about you being great and not about being better than somebody.
Imagine. Implement. Iterate. Improve.