A photo I took in Laos

UI design is a creative job. Although it’s much more constrained than other artistic activities (e.g. painting or pottery), there’s still a lot of scope for creativity.

Recently, I began thinking about what other creative fields have in common with designing digital products -and whether or not I could apply techniques and concepts across disciplines.

Photography

When I started learning about photography, I read about composition, balance, and energy. These are all present in a user interface too, (although energy/direction is less important).

In the past, my mind was often concerned with questions like “should I make this margin 4 pixels…


Which is the best tool? The complicated one with many features, or the simple one with limited features that’s essential for one specific task?

The answer, of course, depends on which persona you’re designing for. But unless you’re targeting expert users on purpose (usually professionals or users who have devoted hundreds of hours to mastering your product), it’s generally better to simplify your product. Focus on making it an excellent tool for a narrow range of goals.

This flattens users’ learning curve, makes them feel more powerful and effective, and, crucially for business, keeps them coming back.

One example I…


Support beginners, in every field!

Just as all your users may not be the same age, in the same location, or even speak the same language, each of them will have a different skill level when using your product.

Accommodating everyone from the most uncertain novice to the overconfident power user is a delicate balance. Get it right, and you’ll see a visible improvement in churn rates and user loyalty.

Designers typically divide users into three groups: Beginners, Intermediates, and Experts.

The arc of skill acquisition mimics progress in other fields, such as sports.

Let’s take surfing. Beginners practice how to paddle and pop up…


I hang around in a number of groups and forums for SaaS founders. Amongst all the discussions, I see very little mention of how to invest in UI/UX or even the benefits of doing so. Functionality, performance, and stability are typically higher on the priority list.

I find this baffling (and not just because I’m a UI designer!). Investing in your product’s UI/UX has a potentially very large ROI, which many SaaS companies are missing out on. And it’s not as complicated as it may seem.

This is especially true for products which have a higher-than-desirable churn rate (usually an…


To your users, small annoyances in your app are like flaws in a romantic partner. They can handle one or two, but if more and more pile up they just end up miserable. If you frustrate your users with small inconveniences too often, they’ll react the same way they would to a bad spouse — they’ll move on to something better (see: Does User Annoyance Matter?).

Good UI design minimizes the number of annoyances in your application and boosts your product’s business value, and is worth investing in. …

Sebastian Nils Mitchell

UI/UX Designer helping startups and companies acquire and retain more customers through better UI. Portfolio: https://sebas.design

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store