5 strategies to Get Ahead While Others Panic About AI

Quick summary In this article, you will learn five strategies to help you stand out from average designers and embrace new technologies to create remarkable work.

AI-generated worried designer with Midjourney

The digital revolution has caused a major shift in the workforce. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is significantly changing how creative professionals like UX and product designers, artists, illustrators, and photographers learn and engage with their work.

Today, we are constantly bombarded with content on YouTube, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms about AI technologies. Unfortunately, the hype around AI models such as ChatGPT, Midjourney, or DALL-E 2, just to name a few, generates lots of anxiety in designers.

Many fear AI could displace them from their jobs because it can produce a wide range of materials, including writing blog posts, computer code, essays, scripts and creating artwork quickly and for free.

To avoid seeing AI as a threat or becoming obsolete, we must step back and filter the information that we consume carefully. First, we must understand AI’s actual impact on our industry. Second, we must embrace AI technologies and raise our profile to navigate the AI age with confidence (Cal Newport, 2023).

What we know today

AI models such as ChatGPT, Midjourney, or DALL-E 2 have been pre-trained from huge amounts of data and user feedback, allowing anyone to create human-like text or visual content on demand easily.

However, since AI can’t think creatively or strategically or apply any judgment like humans, it can’t fully replace designers in jobs like UX or product design, where —human interaction, strategic thinking, creativity, and empathy—are critical to thrive.

To help me understand better how we should approach our careers in the age of AI, I spent the last few months studying how successful designers and other professionals have started to use AI in their work and the attributes that make them stand out from the majority of people.

This article is mainly for creative professionals, including UX and product designers working solo or in-house. I will develop the five strategies I learnt and hope they will help you gain confidence and become remarkable.

Below are the strategies that I will cover in this article:

  1. Become a great problem solver
  2. Define clear goals
  3. Expand your skills
  4. Become an art-director
  5. Integrate AI into your workflow

Let’s get started!

Strategy #1: Become a great problem solver

Today, it has become more challenging for us designers to stand out because the market is flooded with AI-generated content.

Since anyone with no experience in UX or product design can use AI to create artwork, content, or a website with minimal effort, we are finding more junk than ever, including lousy designs, writing, and pointless products.

Today, we must be excellent at solving real business problems to stand out from amateurs. We should use our strategic, tactical, and critical thinking to better serve our clients’ or stakeholders’ needs.

What sets great designers apart from amateurs is that the former knows the importance of understanding the challenges of designing effective solutions, while the latter focuses on following trends without solving the real challenge.

For example, whenever I work on a design project, I ask the right questions and actively listen to the client to understand the real challenge I have to solve. As Seth Godin once said, the future belongs to those who excel in gaining insights and creating value, thus becoming indispensable in the marketplace (Godin, 2010).

That’s why using our unique human capabilities — knowledge, creativity, empathy, emotional intelligence, and strategic thinking — is essential to solving problems effectively and adding value to the marketplace.

Being a great problem solver, focusing on the “why” before thinking about the “how” is critical to race to the top in a saturated market of AI-generated works created by amateurs.

Strategy #2: Define clear goals

With significant changes happening quickly in the design industry, some designers find it challenging to stay updated. As I write this, OpenAI has just launched its latest model version, ChatGPT-4o!

One reason many people become obsolete is that they don’t have defined goals. They live their lives and careers on ‘autopilot,’ going through the motions without actively following a clear career path. They refuse to adapt to industry changes or leave their comfort zone.

To stand out from 80% of people and boost your self-esteem, start by defining the designer you want to become. One effective way to do this is by learning from successful designers you admire. Their journeys can provide valuable insights and inspiration to help you develop your own unique style.

From there, work backwards: Use your vision of your future self to set goals, determine your present actions, and find the best ways to move toward becoming the designer you aspire to be. The more connected you are to your future self, the more effective you will be in the present. This connection will help you filter out noise that can create unnecessary anxiety and derail you from your bigger goal (Benjamin Hardy, 2022).

For example, my ultimate career goal is to become a creative director specializing in growing businesses through distinctive digital products and helping thousands of designers worldwide to excel in their work.

Two designers who inspire me daily in this mission are Andy Clarke and Chris Do. Studying their career paths and accomplishments, particularly how they embrace industry changes, such as integrating AI into their workflow, has helped me stay updated with the industry changes and push beyond my comfort zone.

In short, setting clear goals is a powerful way to boost self-confidence and achieve high performance. Remember, it’s the small daily actions that add up over time and lead to great achievements.

Strategy #3: Expand your skills

Expanding our skills to build deep knowledge in any field is fundamental to increasing our value in the marketplace.

Most people are unwilling to work hard on themselves and perform undesirable tasks, such as reading books, attending training, or studying successful people, to become excellent at their work and indispensable to their organizations or clients.

To deepen our expertise and raise our value, we must commit to lifelong learning — especially in a competitive field like UX Design, where mastery cannot be achieved with shortcuts or quick fixes.

Here is a roadmap to help you build expertise:

Build a solid knowledge foundation

If you’re beginning your career, start as a generalist to explore different areas of the discipline. Learn as much as possible about UX and product design to develop a broad and solid knowledge base. Focus on the fundamentals, including usability, heuristics, information architecture, UX research, interaction design principles, and interface design.

Stand out with deep expertise

After you accumulate experience and career capital, consider specializing in your best area of interest to develop deep expertise. When you specialize, you position yourself as an expert in a specific area. For example, I specialized in designing websites that grow businesses by using my creative and technical skills because that’s what I do best, and I want my expertise to be recognized in this area.

Leveraging Mentorship

Whenever you can, seek mentors to gain knowledge. An experienced designer can guide you through challenges, offer valuable insights, and provide constructive feedback to help you improve your work. You don’t necessarily need to meet these mentors in person. Engaging with their books can also bring you closer to their approach.

Learning Through Resources

Attending conferences and reading books about the discipline is an excellent way to access what the smartest people in your field, such as industry leaders, renowned authors, or experienced practitioners, have already figured out.

I regularly read and attend UX and web design training to develop my skills. In addition, I like to study related areas such as marketing, branding, business strategy, web development, graphic design, and AI to build specific and unique knowledge.

Engage with deliberate practice

As Cal Newport suggests in his book Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You (2012), to master any skill, you must engage in deliberate practice.

For example, if you want to improve your website or product design skills, you must practice the discipline by working on real projects, gathering immediate feedback from mentors or peers, and repeating the process to improve performance.

Mastering UX design — or any skill — requires time, dedication, and adaptation to new technologies like AI. There are no shortcuts. Stay patient and focused. The compound effect will reward your efforts.

Strategy #4: Become an art-director

Technology evolves, but key aspects of human nature — such as emotional drives, behaviours, and cognitive processes — remain unchanged.

Creative professionals with strong human skills — like problem-solving, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence — hold unique value in the age of AI because these attributes cannot be replicated by machines (Toyama, 2023).

We should use our hearts, souls, minds, and craftsmanship to create work that resonates deeply with people. By infusing our work with humanity, we can transform our stakeholders, clients, and end-users into happier, more engaged individuals.

In short, individuals who bring their unique perspective, creativity, and emotions to their work will thrive in the age of AI.

Use Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence and empathy are crucial attributes to consider when interacting with stakeholders, clients, and end-users. We can truly understand their challenges, pain, and aspirations by asking insightful questions and listening attentively.

This approach not only builds trust but also fosters collaboration. It is equally important to communicate our design process clearly, enabling stakeholders and clients to visualize the steps we take to help them achieve their goals.

Add Personality to Your Work

Everyone should art-direct to add meaning to their work. This approach involves conveying emotion into our actions to provoke feelings in the receiver. It is also about adding personality to our work to design products that connect emotionally with the audience.

When I work on a project, after discussing the goals to achieve, the challenge to solve, and the target, I work on designing the solution. Part of the process includes defining the visual style of my product design based on the emotions I want to convey.

Thinking about design elements such as typefaces, layouts, colours, images, and storytelling allows me to create distinctive interfaces that evoke feelings and elevate a brand. In today’s world flooded with AI-generated content, we must consider how we want someone to feel to produce unique work.

Empathy, emotional intelligence, and art direction create memorable experiences that engage on a human level. AI is a tool that helps us execute, but it cannot replace our input and expertise.

Strategy #5: Integrate AI to your workflow

Utilizing AI as an assistant is essential for gaining a competitive advantage in today’s business world.

For designers, AI tools like ChatGPT or Midjourney are helpful as they can elevate the quality of our work, free up time for working on meaningful tasks, and boost our performance and productivity.

This is how I use AI to enhance my design creative process. Hopefully, this will also inspire you to use it in your work.


These days, I mostly use ChatGPT to work on different tasks, including writing content outlines, fixing code, and doing user research.

a. Content creation

When I need to prepare the content for a web page or a new article, ChatGPT is excellent for generating content ideas for my designs, including brainstorming site structures and labels. It’s my preferred tool because it avoids the frustration of starting from a blank page.

In addition, when I write about a particular topic, I often use ChatGPT to complement my research from books, articles, podcasts, and videos. It’s a time-saver for organizing and improving my ideas more effectively.

b. Writing and fixing code

My work also involves writing HTML and CSS and occasionally tweaking PHP code to implement my custom designs. ChatGPT is great at fixing my code whenever I face coding issues.

Last year, I designed this website, but I faced some challenges implementing the design because I had to write some PHP code to make it work on WordPress.

Since I am not proficient in writing PHP code, ChatGPT was very helpful in guiding me through writing and fixing my code so that I could implement the design effectively.

Another good point is that when I work on content-heavy pages where writing the code can be tedious, I find ChatGPT very useful for speeding up the process.

Chat GPT screen
Example of a request I submitted ChatGPT to debug a code on WordPress.

c. User research

Speaking to users to gather insights before redesigning an app, website, or system is often challenging.

Whenever I encounter this challenge, I can use ChatGPT to better inform my research, including discovering user questions and objections, performing top-task analysis, drafting accurate user profiles and content, and performing brand exercises.

While speaking directly to users to understand their needs is always better, AI can complement additional research well and save time and money, especially when working under constraints!


Without AI, finding specific types of images that suit a design atmosphere or coming up with new ideas can be difficult. Thankfully, with Midjourney, finding inspiration, including bespoke images, becomes easier—although it shouldn’t replace traditional searching methods.

While it might be tempting to use Midjourney’s images exactly as they are when generated, it’s our responsibility to transform these raw inputs into unique designs that communicate the intended messages.

Remember, it’s not the AI that makes the artist. Focus on being great at communicating a message visually, and then use AI to execute your ideas.

Here is an example of how I like to use Midjourney to create human faces and bring more personality into my designs whenever possible. The result is astonishing!

midjourney profiles
AI-generated profile I created with Midjourney, using the prompt’ Italian woman, 40 years old entrepreneur, with a shirt and wearing glasses, smiling.’


I use Attention Insights to test the accessibility of my designs whenever I doubt the structure of my page layout or visual hierarchy. Attention Insights is AI-based, so it doesn’t require direct input from real users.

When you submit a design for a test, it will be scanned based on a large database of eye-tracking studies to predict where users will look at it and then guide you on how to improve it.

As Paul Boag suggests, using Attention Insights is a great way to convince clients if they are worried about users missing an element on the page (2023).

Attention Insight screen
Clarity test of a wireframe I did using Attention-Insights.


In conclusion, using generative AI tools like ChatGPT or Midjourney to enhance our creative processes is crucial for staying competitive and improving our work experience and productivity.

While concerns about AI’s impact on creative professionals are valid, the key to gaining confidence and standing out from average designers lies in leveraging our unique human skills, embracing new technologies, and developing deep expertise in our field.

While writing this article, I am also creating my custom GPT (with the premium version of Chat GPT) that I train with my own data because I want to find ways to speed up my work and give designers access to my ideas whenever they need it.

AI is the future. Those who see AI as a companion rather than a threat will thrive. Developing the right skills, mindsets, and approaches will allow us to create exceptional work for our clients, stakeholders, and users and make us remarkable in the marketplace.

Thanks for reading!

Jerome Kalumbu

Here are a few resources you can browse and explore, which I used for my research to build this article:

  • There Is No Turning Back on AI
  • How Generative AI Is Changing Creative Work
  • How Generative AI Could Disrupt Creative Work
  • How Generative AI Can Augment Human Creativity
  • How AI Technology Will Transform Design
  • The Future Of Design: Human-Powered Or AI-Driven?
  • Supercharge Your Projects with AI: My Personal Experience
  • Co-Intelligence: Living and Working with AI
  • AI 2041: Ten Visions for Our Future
  • Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?
  • So Good They Can’t Ignore You
  • The Win Without Pitching Manifesto
  • Be Your Future Self Now

If you want to learn more about this topic, read my book “DON’T START WITH VISUALS”.

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