There are over 507,690 graphic designers employed globally.
How do you stand out from this massive pool of creative brains?
You need to keep enhancing your design skills as a freelancer or an employee. Now, this statement may sound vague if you don't know how. There are a zillion ways to improve a skill. How do you know what exactly you should do to enhance your design skills? If you've already figured out ways, remarkable. If you haven't, this article speaks specifically to you.
The article lists seven tips and tricks to help you maximize your UX design skills and be unique. Let's dive right in.
1. Take online courses in UX design
Fortunately, in this era of the internet, information about anything and everything is easily accessible. You can educate yourself about any topic; education is a primary step in any domain. Whether you intend to become a surgeon or a designer, you must study the subject before practicing it.
You can develop your design skills from the comfort of your home. All you need is a computer/laptop and a stable internet connection, and you’re good to go. Many platforms offer online courses in UX design for free. At the same time, some advanced courses may cost you a little. Uxcel is one such platform where you can easily find interactive UX design courses to help you gain new skills and grow your design career.
At the beginning of your career, it is wise to focus on a single aspect of UI/UX design. Take as many courses as possible on that specific aspect and get good at it. Also, you have two options when it comes to designing. Learn the difference between UX and UI design and become an expert in at least one to give you a leg up when applying for jobs.
2. Keep it simple
In the design world, less is more.
Gone are the days when businesses preferred fancy and in-the-face designs. However, designers may still have complicated designs because they need to stand out from the rest and leave a mark. The design then may be packed with vibrant colors, bold styles and distracting typography–all in an attempt to make the design the best.
However, stuffing your design with too much of any element instantly makes it a UX turn-off. It’s understandable to want your design to stand out; however, ensure the focus is on the user. A solid UX design has the user at its core. The design should be simple to understand and visually appealing simultaneously.
Plus, minimalism also makes navigation intuitive. One can easily find and navigate through a website that has a simple design. Designers can easily use icons, features and other elements that simplify user interaction and navigation with products.
3. Study designers that you admire
Looking up to designers’ work you admire is the best way to inspire yourself. Use inspiration from your favorite sources across the internet. Scroll through Pinterest, Dribble or go through your favorite websites from the design perspective. Study the visual elements they use, fonts, space, colors, white spacing, etc. and how they organize it neatly.
Observe how the top designs hold the power to tell a story. By looking through different types of designs, you’ll gradually understand the intent behind the design. Why is a logo designed a certain way, why has the designer used a specific color or font for a specific word, and so on. You learn about the technicalities behind a stellar design.
You can even store some of the designs of your favorite designers. Simply going through them from time to time will spark new ideas when you struggle with your creativity.
4. Keep yourself updated on the design trends
Learning never ends. Period.
Digital industries are constantly evolving. This means there will always be new tools and trends for you to learn and be aware of every day. Be sure you stay updated on these recent trends, be it a design theory or a new tool. There may even be new features regarding AI integration or eCommerce that you may need to know how to implement.
Besides reading about design trends and updates on the internet, UX magazines are a great source of information. When you learn new trends or concepts, ensure you implement them in your existing design. For instance, you may have designed a webpage some time back. Today you learn about a new interactive element that all top industries are implementing. These features are a call for a website redesign.
5. Conduct UX research and user testing
Creating a UX design comes after you've known a user. After all, a UX design is meant to meet a user's need to solve a user's problem. Here's when UX research comes into play. Conducting UX research in the right way will help you design the product better.
You can conduct UX research by talking to potential users, taking surveys, including them in discussions when creating UX designs, etc. There are a few benefits of conducting UX research mentioned below:
- It helps you come up with a data-driven solution
- It'll significantly reduce the need for customer service and the demand for instructions
- Minimizes development costs
- Driving user engagement and curating better online experiences
UX research is the first phase in the design life cycle. So ensure you conduct UX research before starting with UX designs.
After the UX design is made comes the testing part. Usability testing or user testing is a stage that enables you to evaluate your product or design with real-time users. Through user testing, you can get a sneak peek of real users' insight. You'll know the users' likes and dislikes and whether your design needs changes.
UX research and user testing are the most crucial stages of the design life cycle since they dictate whether the product design solves the users' problems.
6. Take UX audits
Many organizations conduct audits at regular intervals to examine and evaluate the work done. However, a lot of busy organizations are only result-oriented. You get tasks. You get them done. You move on to the next one. In such a scenario, there is little room for pause and growth. So it’s essential to pause to review your previous work, process, and results.
Take the time to address the issues, reflect on them and try to resolve and improve your processes depending on the problems. To help you gain clarity, we’ve listed a few questions you can ask when auditing.
- Does this product design still function effectively and solve the user’s problem?
- Can the navigation of this design/product be simplified?
- What needs to change to improve the product’s performance?
A UX audit with help you find and resolve issues in your product and enhance user experience.
7. Keep practicing
Last but not least, practice. To become good at any skill, you must put in the effort every day. Similarly, to get good at designing, there’s no shortcut but to practice. Practicing every day won’t only help you sharpen your design skills but also your analytical skills. No matter how much you read, how many courses you take, or how many designers you follow, without practice, it’s all futile.
Once you gather all information about font styles, typography, layouts, alignment, grid theory, and other visual elements, it’s time to implement these. You can start by spending at least an hour daily sharpening your design skills. Even if you don’t utilize the whole hour, sitting for a designated time will get you into discipline. This will also help you be more productive and focused in the long run.
Experimenting is key
As a designer or a business, the last thing you want is for your design to become stale. Like any other skill, a design could stagnate if you follow the same style. So it’s vital to experiment with new design trends and tools to keep your work fresh. Be open to learning new things, and don’t be afraid to implement those. Doing so will help you enhance your skill in the long run.
You don’t necessarily have to take expensive courses or buy heavy design tools to experiment. Start by making minor changes to your existing designs, and it’ll automatically open room for new possibilities. Good luck!
Parita Pandya is an Engineer turned Writer. She usually finds herself writing for businesses. When she is not writing, she is either strumming her guitar or penning her thoughts down on paritapandya.com.