T-shaped designer

A T-Shaped designer is a designer who is very experienced in one specific topic of his field and has general knowledge of various design-related topics.

Updated on March 21st, 2023


This type of designer is represented with the capital letter T, where the vertical bar represents the expertise, and the horizontal one represents the basic knowledge of other topics.

Here's why becoming a T-shaped designer is an excellent next step for your career.

Due to your broad generic knowledge, you can easily integrate within a product team and all the departments and members involved.

Being a T-shaped designer helps you better understand other roles and team members. This increases collaboration and improves communication among team members.

A real-life example

Let's say you are a designer with a strong background in visual design. That would be your strongest and primary skill.

With all the available courses, bootcamps, books, and videos, you can learn, apply, and master other skills.

By setting up a clear learning path, you can acquire new skills that benefit your primary skill. In this example, the following skills would benefit your visual design skills.

  • Project management. You'll learn to understand what to design.

  • Sales. You'll learn to sell your visual design skills.

  • UI design. You'll be able to use your visuals inside of products and apps.

How to become a T-shaped designer

Becoming a T-shaped designer is easier said than done. Where do you start? And should you focus on the vertical or horizontal part of the T-shape? Here's our recommendation.

Identify your areas of improvement

First, list all the areas where you have experience, knowledge, and understanding. Specify the level of expertise for each area. It is important to know if you have generic or expert knowledge of each topic.

Next, list the ones you'd like to study further and have more knowledge about. These can be the same as the ones from the previous step but also be completely new.

Make a plan

With your list of topics ready, it's time to develop a plan to increase your knowledge where needed. Keep in mind the following things.

  • Be consistent: dedicate 15-30 minutes each day to a topic until you feel comfortable with your level of expertise.

  • Online education: take advantage of all material available online, like YouTube tutorials, ebooks, and courses.

  • Shadow an expert: if you're already working with someone who's an expert in the topic you're studying, ask their permission to be shadowed.

  • Have a mentor: ask your mentor how to better develop your skills.

Useful resources

The Many Virtues of Being T-Shaped - UX Pin

I, X, and T-Shaped Designers: What's the Difference? - UX Beginner

How to become a T-shaped designer - The Designer's Toolbox



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