Adaobi Okonkwo




Standing Out and Becoming a Better Designer

Adaobi Okonkwo's photo
Adaobi Okonkwo
·Apr 26, 2021·

7 min read

Standing Out and Becoming a Better Designer

Why be basal when you were born to stand out?

The truth is, if you keep doing what everyone else is doing, you will never be able to stand out. Binding yourself to a set of rules to follow as a creative will only stifle your creativity, and we don't want that, do we?

On this path to becoming a better designer, I implore you to not lose sight of humble beginnings. It is important that your foundation holds up just as well as your deliverables. On that note, I say we go back to the very basics to remind you of your primary responsibility as a designer; problem-solving!

As a designer, your work entails more than just UIs and UXs; it also entails solving issues for customers and ensuring that their products and/or companies are profitable. A great designer should be able to combine the various aspects and tools of design to build and implement a solution that addresses a user's experience issues.

What is Interface Design?

Alt text of image First, we'll take a look at design.

The definition of design varies across disciplines. However, when it comes to UI/UX, design is a strategy for putting a process or product into action. The usability, reliability, performance, and speed of an interface are all determined by its design.

Design is often user-centered. This means that the design thinking approach places users at the core. It is also crucial to think about design in terms of emotions as well as usability. People are just as interested in products that perform as they are in products that make them happy.

The aesthetics or visually pleasing interaction of a product is the focus of user interface design (UI). It is the very first level of human-machine interaction. UI will enable users to operate a system more efficiently in order to complete a task or accomplish a particular objective.

Fun Fact: The user interface (UI) was born out of a need for users to interact with their computers (accessibility without the knowledge or need to code). This technological transition was a smart and deliberate move made to boost computer sales in the 1980s.

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Essentially, UI design will go hand in hand with UX design as it necessitates conscious decisions aimed at smoothing out a product or brand experience. If these decisions aren't taken with the goal of making the user experience as frictionless as possible, a user will turn to a different method, such as take-out, to solve their problem.

What is User Experience Design?

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UX design is concerned with how people interact with products like websites, mobile apps, and other physical objects. UX improves the usability, enjoyment, and accessibility of daily experiences. Analyzing, designing, testing, launching, monitoring, and evolving are all part of the process. This is done because remember, we are solving problems.

Fun Fact: world renowned Steve Jobs, his soul rest in peace, introduced the concept of a UX design which integrated the needs of the consumer and involved a complete user experience of satisfaction upon using the product. Jobs believed that the key to selling any product would be to first identify and feel the customer experience then work backwards to create technologies that would aid in the evolution of that product. A visionary, I stan!

It's no surprise that Apple is ranked first on the list of Worlds Largest Tech Companies by market capitalization and brand value. Lest we forget Donald Norman, the pioneer who helped coin the term ‘User Experience’ while working at Apple in the 90s. Coincidence? I think not!

Now, what is the difference between UI and UX Design?

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In order to gain a comprehensive insight into the difference between UI and UX, it is important that we get a good understanding of what they both entail.

The user interface (UI) and the user experience (UX) are two important aspects of a product that operate in tandem. They both necessitate excellent oral and written communication, as well as a high emotional intelligence (EQ) and effective stakeholder management. These elements may work together, but keep in mind that they are separate entities with numerous differences. A few examples are:

  1. UX is concerned with project management and research throughout the ideation, creation, and implementation processes. The design components for the finished product are more of a technical aspect of UI.
  2. UX is concerned with the product's purpose and functionality. The consistency of an end-user's interaction with a product is referred to as UI.
  3. UI design has an artistic element when it comes to the design and interface of a product. It has an effect on the end-user's ability to see, hear, and feel. UX incorporates a stronger social element for market analysis and communication with clients to understand their needs.

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Gathering user specifications, designing graphic elements, and creating navigation components are all common responsibilities for UI and UX designers. These roles may rely on each other, but there is a slight overlap. Regardless of their similarities or differences, they both remain essential components of the creation and delivery of a product.

Finally, what are Design Tools and their advantages/disadvantages?

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The tools of the trade! You will need a level of experience with certain industry tools and design software to become a better designer. UX tools help paint a wider image of how content and organization can impact experience, while UI tools make minimally viable products and convey a design's functionality.

Some of the resources available include, InVision, Sketch, Balsamiq, Figma, and Adobe XD. Needless to say, everything has its benefits and drawbacks, so cue the excitement while we consider some of the Pros and Cons.

  • InVision - a prototyping tool that prides itself on allowing designers to create prototypes quickly.

On the upside, Invision does not have a strong learning curve, so new users can figure out how to work with it quickly. On the downside, sharing a project with clients can be difficult.

  • Sketch - If you are looking for a UI-friendly wireframing tool, you should use Sketch as your weapon.

On the upside, Sketch is a precise tool used to create high-fidelity mockups. On the downside, it is only available on macOS, which keeps Windows users from operating the platform.

  • Balsamiq - a quick and easy wireframing tool to make your work in design fun!

On the upside, designs on Balsamiq can easily be exported to a PDF file. On the downside, Balsamiq is NOT a vinaigrette dressing that you can pour on your salad. Sigh.

  • Figma - brings you and your team together to build dynamic prototypes and mockups, test them for usability, and sync up all of the progress.

On the upside, It is browser-based, making it accessible to everyone in an instant. On the downside, keeping track of updates is very difficult as version control is almost non-existent.

  • Adobe XD - a design tool within the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite that developers use to create prototypes for the web, iOS, and Android.

On the upside, Adobe XD can import all Sketch mocks and make them editable. On the downside, It can be difficult to share designs with team members and clients.

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Where to find these tools you ask? Obasanjo or Beyonces internet of course, depending on what part of the sphere you're on! The internet is vast with infinite resources to aid you in your design journey. As you research and study on the various design tools, it is important that you also get an understanding of the principles of design. Why? The tools may change overtime, but the processes will remain the same.

In Conclusion

You must consider what you want to be remembered for (a superstar in your niche, surely) in order to stand out and become a better designer. Experimenting, researching, surveying the competition, seeking more efficient ways to communicate with your clients, and did I forget to mention experimenting? These actions will help you find your resolve. Experimentation is the key to unlocking your design potential. Never be afraid to experiment!

#NoteToSelf - Success as a designer is unlikely to come quickly or easily. Your growth, however, is guaranteed with the right strategies. Be patient, focused, and take it one step at a time.


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