I’m a big believer in heuristics — quick rules of thumb that apply across a wide variety of situations.

For designers, heuristics are literally a superpower.

There’s certain phrases, rules, and ideas that — if you always keep them in mind, you’ll quickly become a MUCH better designer.

I’m going to show you 3 of my favorite heuristics in a quick 5-min app redesign. These are 3 principles that will come in handy for pretty much every highly-interactive design you ever work on.

Our example today: Roam Research. …

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This is my advice on improving the UX of your designs WITHOUT hours of user research sessions, paper prototyping playtime, or any other trendy UX buzzwords.

(Seriously, search “design thinking”. 0 results. Nailed it!)

Who’s this article for? I’m looking at you:

  • Developers. You created your own app, but every time someone downloads it, they struggle to use it. And you know if they’re telling you this, then it’s really bad.
  • Graphic designers. Looking to make the transition into digital, but trying to learn UX by reading articles online is… a very painful way to die 😬
  • PMs. Your job is already like 25% UX designer. Would be nice to level up those skills. …

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There’s a real chicken-and-egg problem with getting hired as a designer these days:

  • It’s hard to get a job without a good portfolio
  • It’s hard to create a good portfolio without first having good jobs

(This is true of freelance work, agency work, and full-time work at a startup or larger tech company)

In some ways, this seems like an insurmountable obstacle. Abandon all hope! The spiral of pessimism will win! You can never transition careers!

Or can you?

Folks, we live in an absolutely amazing time. You can create a portfolio worthy enough to get hired as a designer without ever having done a single paid project in your life. With very few UX Design programs offered at traditional universities — and basically no UI design programs — the industry is forced to judge you on your abilities, rather than a piece of paper hanging on your wall that cost you tens of thousands of dollars. …

Tiny Trend

UX Power Tools is featuring new authors (like me) as a part of their TinyTrends series. Sweet. Now let’s see what the next little thing is.

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Wouldn’t it be cool and unique if your design featured text with vines/flowers/leaves wrapping around the letterforms, as if they existed in the same 3D space?

Yeah, it would be cool.

But it wouldn’t be unique, because wow, this one’s been done before.

Dribbble, show us what you got.

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by Natalie Kirejczyk

Look at the word “Forest” just sitting in that forest.

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by Ernest Asanov

Or the “404” here. The page may not exist, but those stems are so real I could reach out and touch them. Except…thorns?

NOTE: for the full, updated article, please go here. This is an abbreviated (and non-updated version).

Being pretty self-taught as far as UI design goes, I’ve always wondered why so many articles and books talk about color theory and palettes. In my experience, using a “split complementary palette” is about 0% predictive of me making nice-looking designs.

I have another word for that sort of thing: useless.

So if color theory doesn’t provide a solid basis for color in UI design, what does?

Let me throw an opinion at ya’: color modifications. It’s the tweaking of color that counts.

Or, said another way: The fundamental skill of coloring interface designs is being able to modify one base color into many different variations. …

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A guide to visual aesthetics, written by a nerd

NOTE: For the updated, complete version of this article, please go here.

This is the second part in a two-part series. You should read the first part first.

We’re talking about rules for designing clean and simple UI without needing to attend art school in order to do so.

Here are the rules:

  1. Light comes from the sky
  2. Black and white first
  3. Double your whitespace
  4. Learn the methods of overlaying text on images
  5. Make text pop— and un-pop
  6. Only use good fonts
  7. Steal like an artist

Rule 4: Learn the methods of overlaying text on images

There are only a few ways of reliably and beautifully overlaying text on images. …

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A non-artsy guide to creating beautiful apps and sites

NOTE: For the full, updated version of this article, please go here.


OK, first things first. This guide is not for everyone. Who is this guide for?

  • Developers who want to be able to design their own good-looking UI in a pinch.
  • UX designers who want their portfolio to look better than a Pentagon PowerPoint. Or UX designers who know they can sell an awesome UX better in a pretty UI package.

If you went to art school or consider yourself a UI designer already, you will likely find this guide some combination of a.) boring, b.) wrong, and c.) irritating. That’s fine. All your criticisms are right. …


Erik D. Kennedy

Staying hungry, staying foolish, and getting stuff done. Independent UX/UI Designer. Teaches at http://LearnUI.Design

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