Are you building software or launching a startup? Are you a coder, thinking you’ll never feel confident in your own designs?

Start calling yourself a designer right now.

“Designer” isn’t a title you unlock at some threshold of skill, or a title you earn. People of all skill levels are designers.

If you begin calling yourself a designer, all the sudden you can take that work seriously. You might not have a lot of experience, but at least the time you spend working on a design is serious work. You’re not messing around, dipping your toes in the water. You are committed.

That commitment makes all the difference: now you are allowed to make mistakes, because you are going to stick with it. Making mistakes is how you learn and improve your skill.

Too often, fear of making mistakes gets in the way of learning. Make a commitment and allow yourself to make mistakes without beating yourself up about how bad it looks. With each attempt, your skill will improve.

Those like me who have made a career out of design started poorly skilled. My work wasn’t great when I began my career, but I still called myself a designer. Back then, I wasn’t any different from a developer who is just starting to learn design right now.

It’s easy to earn the right to call yourself a designer: just go design things.

“…we assign mystical reverence to the work of professional designers. Their elegant color schemes, provocative typography, and eye-scorching aesthetics leave us dumbfounded. Only “creative types” can achieve this; only near-savants who were born with a special talent.

…you’d think design is difficult. You’d think it’s complicated, and that gaining basic skill requires hours of studying a multitude of advanced topics. And you’d be wrong.

Anyone can be a great designer with practice. It’s both at once liberating and frightening: your future as a designer depends only on how hard you’re willing to work. Design is a skill and a trade; you get better at it by practicing. First, learn the basics and go design something. Then, call yourself a designer. The more things you design, the better you will get and the more lovely and insightful your creations will become. No magic knowledge hidden away in design books, blogs, or classes will teach you to be a great designer. All you have to do is practice. Learning design is that simple.

Excerpt from Chapter 2 of my ebook, Bootstrapping Design

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