I happened to learn UI/UX design 3 years ago. At that time, I just accompanied my husband and moved to United States. My bachelor degree was English Literature while I took a master degree in UK in global journalism. Nothing was related with design. As a foreigner, it was so hard to start your life with just some so-called language skills. But I know that my interest lay in creating some interesting things. Then one day I thought, um.. it was pretty much a good idea of enrolling some classes about photoshop and started learning some photo editing or illustrating skills. That was the starting point of my whole story.
After one semester photoshop learning, I got the basic ideas about how to edit photos and have some intermediate skills about photoshop. One day, my husband just browsed through the website and suddenly dropped me a question, “why didn’t you try UI design. It seemed a lot of fun!” “UI design? What’s that?” At that point I had no idea what UI design was about.
The UI design sounded so new to me that it did take some time for me to figure out what was it about. The UI stands for user interface. For example, on mobile device, the button that you click, the sign in form that you fill in, the paragraph that you read, everything is about user interface. Your job is to make the user’s interaction as simple and efficient as possible with the device.
As I delved into UI design, I knew another term, UX design. It is about user experience design. The UX and UI are interweaved tightly with each other. You won’t design UI successfully without taking any user experience test. Why should you place your submit button here instead of putting there should make sense. It is all about user experience.
Here is the paradox. I am a full time mom with two kids. I did not have hand in working experience in the industry. What should I do. I always see similar post in Facebook UI/UX design group. If no one hire me, I won’t have any experience. Without working experience, who will hire me. That is catch 22! Then the other day, I read an article which was truly inspiring about solving my paradox to some aspect! Here is the link of the article, 👉 https://www.freecodecamp.org/news/i-wanted-to-see-how-far-i-could-push-myself-creatively-so-i-redesigned-instagram-1ff99f28fa8b/
This guy was absolutely crazy!! She interviewed 40 Instagram users so as to redesign Instagram by herself !! If I could do something like that, I can understand my target audience at my best. At that time, I had an idea about creating a fictitious app about moms. I had my own pain point about socializing with other stay at home moms. This is my article which I elaborated the whole story,👉 https://uxdesign.cc/an-app-for-moms-conceptual-a-ux-case-study-303b52f5cbb3 But my point was that even you stay at home due to some reasons, there were still so many things that you can do.
I made a questionnaire and sent out in my local mom group on Facebook. I got hugely amount of feedbacks. What really taken me aback was that, wow, my target audience think like that!! You won’t know your potential users without reaching to them.
I will create another fictitious app or website this year. But I am thinking to further understand target audience. I might take one or two interviews by buying them a cup of coffee. 😉😉
If you were in the same boat like me, other ways that can help you reach your audience was to do some volunteer work at the local institutions. I sent an email to our local library in hopes of helping out a little bit about social marketing or other social media related work. The staff who supervised me was really nice and let me access to their website google analytics. Then I came up with the idea of redesigning some pages of the library website based on the google analytics data.
With initiating a series of UX steps, you probably would have an idea about how to design your user interface screens. I truly believe that at this stage, your UI elements will make more sense coupled with conducting the user experience analysis.
I also see some guys in the Facebook group asking questions like, what YouTube channels do you follow? You should follow some YouTube channels. But do not jump into the online tutorials without learning anything beforehand. My advice is always that learn as we go. At least this is my way of learning something new. Practice makes perfect. Watching tutorials do not make perfect.
Playing with icon, typography, layout, buttons and other UI elements first. See where is your limitation and where you will encounter some difficulties while designing. Then trying to find some YouTube tutorials and watch how others solved your confusion. You will see wether this tutorial is suitable for you or not based on your own perspective instead of purposelessly watching. It is much more important than bury your head into watching the tutorial. You will get overwhelmed by the resources and the feeling of fulfillment for watching the tutorial is fleeting.
There are two gurus in the UI design field that I want to mention who brings me tons of inspirations in designing. One is Steve Schoger, he gave people designing tips on twitter which you can apply to your design directly. I saved and marked this article written by him and his partner on Medium and read dozens of time. I love to read this article and put away. Then after some time, taking out this article and read again.
Another person is Eric. I subscribe his newsletter and got lots of idea for designing also. You definitely want to save this article also. He irregularly will open his availability and review people’s designing work and give feedback.
My name is Xian. I am a self-taught UI/UX designer and a front-end developer. I am keen in learning everything about design and code. If you think this article is a little bit helpful to you, please clap your hand. 👏👏👏👏You can find me on twitter, or my personal portfolio website.
In the next article, I would love to share some of my opinions about how to appreciate other people’s design work and how to apply their skills to your work. Stay tuned. 👂👂👂👂