It takes many years of a hard work to be a good designer. But there is a transcendent effort to become a highly recruited designer.
The understanding of User-Centered Design and UX design principles taught along the way. Interference between disciplines, a creativity crossed with common sense, an attractive visual decision along with a great user experience become a top-notch product designer.
In order to get that stage, I chose these three items to become my professional rules:
People always ask: "Who am I? UX Researcher? UI/UX Designer? UI Developer?" It's great that the discipline became so popular and so variegated, that even designers don't know who exactly they are. But it doesn't matter what title you put on the door, but what you know and how good you use your knowledge so other people can enjoy the things you do.
The thing is the value of what people want, what companies desire is a top-rated designer who can make their wishes breath, make their products alive. Product Designer is a highly skilled hybrid of UI and UX. Together with a biz dev guy and engineer that knows Front-end and Back-end, they can build a product in a few months and launch it, making you a few million dollars.
That's how valuable a good Product Designer is.
Nowadays, as an industry grows, the importance of UX becomes more valuable, and that's true, though many professionals don't value the visual design. At the end of a day, the job of a product team is to put forth a good visual design with logical and rational assumptions on the decisions that they make.
That's why, as a high-level designer, I need to do a top quality work that actually gets people's attention.
To be a good Visual Designer takes a lot of time. Years. Get that pixel in the right place, make that shadow, the font, the spacing, the object look right, natural... Understand the nature of things, the emotion created by the combination of light, color, and composition. All that is Visual Design Esthetics. And it needs practice, practice, practice.
When you ask yourself questions like:
Is this the right design decision?
Who're the users?
What is their intent?
Why are they coming to that page?
What action are they wanting to take?
Well, this will lead you to a lot of other possible questions and things you can possibly try to figure out to come up with unique logical, rational design based on those decisions.
If you have great design skills and you apply critical thinking to every interface that you build out, this is what makes you a top product designer. You'll be able to create almost a perfect, very close to launching product.
That's what startups do. They make very logical rational assumptions with good visual design work and a fast development and they put those things out. And then they learn from what users are saying and then they iterate quickly on it.
One of the essential parts of taking your imagination to the highest level is to do a lot of it! Just do it.
Iterate a lot.
Look at everything.
Come back and do more.
And only when you've done it, like every possible variation you can think of, THEN YOU REALIZE: Oh! There is one thing we didn't try! Let's try THAT!
Most of the times you know what you're doing, you know yourself, well enough, you got your own secret way to climb the mountain of imagination.
Though sometimes your imagination gets so overdrive, and you find yourself kinda flying among the clouds of ideas, you head is exploded with amazing solutions, while all them actually high above the ground level, and nothing really could be done practically!
Well, congratulations! After you call yourself a pure genius, now it's time to prove it! All you need to do is simple: reverse engineer your crazy ideas to something people know and believe as existing, real, practical thing.
Now you can use all of your skills to make it happen.