Why Fake it Til You Make It” Doesn’t Work in Design”

I see the phrase “Fake it Til you Make It” tossed around pretty frequently on the Internet and I see it a lot on various design forums. It’s a fun little mantra that makes for a cute graphic, and we’ve all been guilty of using from time to time.

“Welp, this sink is leaking and this YouTube video is telling me I can fix it myself. Aye! Fake it Til You Make It, right?!”

Okay, that one might be valid. But here’s the thing, designers: there comes a point where you can’t fake this stuff anymore, and with the right resources – you don’t really have to. In my past experience, I’ve identified two ways you can go from “Fake it Til you Make it” to “Knowing your Sh*t and Killin’ the Game”


The Battle is Won in the Prep

Before meeting with a client you should already have a decent grasp of who they are and what they want to accomplish. I do this a couple of ways: questionnaires and the interwebs.

Give your clients homework before your initial kickoff. They’re already so psyched to make their dreams happen, they’ll be happy to answer a few questions. Ask them who they think their competitors are, what colors they love, what colors they hate, find out what you need to know to make the best possible work – you don’t have to go in blind!

A confident, prepared designer will always beat out the one just “wingin’ it”.

Once you’ve gathered the answers you’re looking for, start your own research. Make notes on their potential competitors, find out who their target audience is, make up a story about their end user, dress up as their end user and look at yourself in the mirror. Okay, that last one could get weird, but you see what I mean? A confident, prepared designer will always beat out the one just “wingin’ it”.

Test It Like It’s Hot

With so many affordable user testing resources out in the world, you’d be silly to not use them for your creative advantage. An application or website’s design is only as good as its usability. Those Gaussian blur backgrounds will only get you so far in life if your back button is in a weird place.

My two favorite resources for usertesting are:

InVision App A Starter plan for InVision is only $13 a month – this allows you 3 clickable prototypes and unlimited user testing (yep, you heard me). With InVision you can send your clickable prototype to a user, and actually watch them interact with your app. Baller status.

Usability Hub If you’re looking for a quick response, Usability Hub is awesome. With a $1 credit you can ask real users the UX questions you’re stuck on. Asking the right questions could take a little more knowledge from an UXpert, but with this kind of affordability, you might as well get the feedback you’re wanting.


We’re not here to dog on your cool ‘Fake it Til You Make It’ poster, but being an expert in your field is critical to success in your design services. Your clients are looking to you for the creative answers, and a little research and testing can go a long way.


Kandace Parker
Kandace Parker