They are a necessary evil. Especially for a product designer working in a small agency environment.
Almost daily, I will have the opportunity to interface with clients, potential clients, and the rest of the team here at JellyJar. And it's wonderful! I'm constantly challenged to work on my communication skills, which directly effects how good of a designer I am. Communication is at the core of design, and a good designer knows how to communicate well.
Think about it. When you design a logo, you need to think about how it's going to communicate the brand that it represents. What are people going to think when they see this logo? How are they going to feel? Will it bestow trust in customers? Will it contribute to the overall experience of this company, or will it detract from the comprehensive message of the product/service?
That's just one specialty of design. What about other areas? Web, mobile, industrial, interaction, or print? These are only a few professions of design, but they all have one thing in common: communication.
As a designer, you must learn how to communicate well. You must. Your clients depend on you to sell your designs to them. Your users depend on you to create a flow that's not confusing, but pleasant to experience. You depend on you to know how to communicate to yourself why you made that design decision. This also produces confidence, which fosters better design.
The best thing you can do for yourself, your clients, and the folks you work for, is to learn how to communicate well. Some practical ways to get better at this include:
- Writing: this may be the best way to gain a higher skill at communicating.
- Being Present at Meetings: yes, a necessary evil, but a good place to be forced into communicating about projects.
- Attending Conferences: go to a conference and meet new people. The best thing to do is sit back and listen to designers talk to each other. It's great for picking up design terminology, professional practices, and new friends. :)
- Speaking at Conferences: you'll have time to prepare, which gives you a huge window to practice communicating a single theme.
- Watching TED Talks: the best of the best speak at TED. Listen and take notes.
- Reading: read tons of books on design. And when you're done, read some more. My sixth grade English teacher used to say, "You can be a reader without being a writer, but you'll never be a good writer without being a reader."
- Commenting on Dribbble and Behance: giving constructive feedback helps you to identify the particulars of a design. Being able to write those particulars down in a way that truly helps another designer, is both beneficial to you and that designer.
Your job as a designer is to communicate, whether that's with your words or with your SVGs. Now go and be prosperous...with your words.