As I started with designing digital products again over a year ago, I realised I was not as good designer as I thought I was. Some moments of realisation came when I became a product designer in a startup.
As a co-founder, not as just an ordinary employee, you see processes differently because you care more about how your startup evolves in time. Everyday, you encounter numerous challenges from variety of fields = business, sales, development, but also from the design perspective.
As a product designer/co-founder, you have all the necessary information about your product in mind, therefore you are the competent one to prioritize the steps to get the task done.
User Interface and User Experience can play a significant role in getting your project to the next level. While conducting research prior to my presentation on importance of design for startups, I found astonishing examples how minor changes in user interface can be one of major drivers of project success.
For instance, take a story of airbnb and how replacing low quality photos with beautiful, more descriptive photos doubled their revenue, or changing one icon boosted engagement in wishlists.
Or what about Flickr’s art of redirection? Coloring contest when their servers took temporary nap saved thousands of stressed users. It redirected their attention from waiting for a service to work again to participation in an exciting contest.
Results of many stories similar to the Flickr’s contest, achieved by application of concept of emotional design, are mentioned in an awesome book: Designing for emotions.
Emotional design is your insurance to maintain audience trust when things aren’t going your way. - Aarron Walter, Director of user experience at MailChimp and Author of ‘Designing for emotions’ book
The results and measurements in cases like Flickr represented a turning point which ultimately strengthened my belief that design in any type of digital business is of vital importance.
This drove me to learning more about how to make design that works. Immediate feedback from mentors and various resources enhanced my understanding of how high-quality design looks and how can I create it.
2 things that helped me to move forward
- Community - I underestimated this aspect years ago when I started with digital design. There were not that many passionate UI designers in eastern Slovakia to talk to about colours of buttons and drink beer to cumulate creativity ☺. As well as that, I was not in an environment which would provide me with guidance regarding the right direction for me in design, so I moved on to development for some time. It gave me another interesting perspective on how to approach a problem. After moving to Prague, I found experienced designers that helped me with their useful tips and when you take a brief look at how they think and work with photoshop, you will be surprised by their effectivity. Special thanks goes to a young design star David Stefanides for his willingness to help and provide feedback whenever he had free time (or just to drink a beer☺outside the office).
- High-quality resources - I found interesting books, blogs and portals that completely changed the way I look at design now — and I want to share them with you (finally, the highlight of the post :-). In fact, there are many resources, but where do effectivity & efficiency come from? Where can I find the best frameworks for faster improvement and self-motivation? Just choose and all it might take to find your cup of tea is a little time and further observation.
It’s not what you read, it’s what you ignore. - Scott Hanselman
In this blogpost, I’ll focus on websites and blogs; books deserve a separate blogpost.
- GoodUI - This probably is one of the most famous resources for getting into UI fundamentals. Not only do the concise & listed-in-points ideas describe techniques for improving aesthetic appeal of UI, but they also address methods focused on high-conversion-rate design—the knowledge directly utilized in the client projects.
- UserOnBoard - This one takes things from a notably practical perspective. How do popular apps increase the likelihood of new users becoming successful when adopting your product? Comments on app screenshots from experienced UX designer is another interesting format in which you know immediately what is going on. Except for some comments, such as how pretty a photo looks on social networks screen of Instagram app, most of these comments point out good/bad UX habits very well. Totally worth checking!
- Cognitive Lode - As a fan of psychology literature, I was truly excited to find this. Here you can find tips from the latest behavioural economics & consumer psychology research with comprehensive description. Playful design of this web is a +. Ribot know how to make this stuff interesting for designers!
- Pttrns - If you are looking for the latest trends in iOS app design, this is the right web for you. Every designer is curious how the most popular mobile apps are designed and this way we can learn from emerging trends.
- Little Big Details - Sometimes, funny tiny elements, imperceptible at first sight, can make your product stand out and leave a positive emotional footprint, e.g. Foursquare mascot hidden in mobile UI.
- UX Candy - Format similar to Little Big Details. Element snapshots from popular apps with short comments, but describing more common UX problems & interactions in a wider usage context.
- Intercom.io - They won my heart by post about dribbblisation of design, which introduced me to another product flow visualisation — product architecture, and outlined their way to think about design in 4 layers — outcome, structure, interaction and visual stuff. I like the way they think and if you do too, check their other posts. Every single one of them is worth reading!
- Teehan+Lax - These guys make mature design of products like Prismatic, Readability or Medium and their case studies prove their practical know-how of content-focused design. It’s interesting to follow the path the popular products’ UI took evolving from paper sketches to shipping to thousands of users. Also check experiments under section Labs, an independent unit founded to foster culture of innovation within the agency. Pretty smart!
- Bret Victor - Kind of a genius that worked for Apple. I couldn’t say it better myself: “Design theory wizard, at the cutting edge of interface designs for programming, seeing, reasoning.” - Edward Tufte. Highly abstract thinking about understanding a system & UI in this essay reveals his systematic and complex approach to interactive visualisation. How instant visual feedback helps coders (coders are users too) understand logic quicker and leverage their creativity is published on his personal web, as well as other tasty experiments. This kind of stuff is slightly advanced for beginners, but there’s no doubt everyone will find something interesting. I strongly recommend reading it sometime later all over again to take it from a new point of view.
Naturally, number of the aforementioned resources can be just a small piece of high-quality resources and different from those more experienced UI/UX designers would recommend, but I found it very useful in practice and inspiring for thinking about design in bigger picture.
Hopefully, your suggestions will reveal even more useful stuff ☺. But always keep in mind …
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