THE FIRST STEP TO GREAT DESIGN IS...
Most of the time, we walk around in our little worlds, moving through daily life habitually doing what we know how to do, unconsciously going through the motions. I do this, you do this, your mom does this. Sometimes, it's really helpful. If you're taking a shower, for example, it would be such a pain if you had to consciously think how to wash your hair or use a bar of soap.
But sometimes, habits can cause you to miss an opportunity or see something new. A huge part of good design is focusing on the tiny little details to make each touchpoint seamless, easy, and in tune with people's needs. If you aren't aware, you can miss some of these design opportunities.
So how can you snap yourself out of your habitual views?
Take a step back and ask questions. Ask yourself if the way you're doing something is really the best way. Could something be changed for the better? Could you add something to make life a bit easier (ie: a few easy-to-access links on your homepage, a bold and bright pop of color to make your business cards more noticeable, etc)?
Look closer. Design is in the details. It's hidden in the little conscious decisions that make something more user-friendly. Think about how someone who knows nothing about your brand will interact with your website or logo. Are there ways you can make them clearly understand your mission?
Think younger. "That's just the way the world works" is a phrase adults tell kids because it's the easiest way out. But kids haven't been around long enough to get used to 'the way the world works.' They see the worldthrough fresh eyes. Getting into the mindset of a child can help you think outside of the normal, day-to-day habits.
If you want to practice these tips, go exploring. Try to ask questions about things you think you already know everything about. This applies to everything from the stars to your website.