Researcher. Designer. Thinker.

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6 Weeks into Becoming a Better UX/UI Designer

This week marked the halfway point of my time in Bloc.io's UX/UI Design program. At the beginning of this thing, for some crazy reason I had it in my head that I'd be able to give a week-by-week replay of my journey to becoming a better UI designer. I sorely underestimated not only the work that's required of any full-time student but also the sheer volume of new things I'd cram into my brain. Here's some of what I remember of my first 6 weeks transitioning from just a plain ol' UXer to a more well-rounded software creator. While the first part of the curriculum covered a TON of stuff, I'm only going to focus here on the stuff I really wanted to get better at—the areas I knew I wanted to become more confident in after going through the program. Here are my top takeaways from the first half of my continuing education journey:

Photoshop is for photos

I'm starting to think Illustrator is probably superior to Photoshop for layouts. It just feels...easier. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Familiarity breeds trust (in yourself)

Photoshop has never really been a part of my design workflow as I've always mostly used wireframing tools and only hacked my way through graphics programs. Hacking your way around is fine, but it sucks when you know that something can be done in a program yet you don't know how to do it. It can be really frustrating, and sometimes makes you feel like you're actually moving slower. Now that I understand what I can do in Photoshop and Illustrator, I feel more confident with those tools...even if I'm still hacking just a little bit.

Once you go grid, you never go back

Never will I ever design without a grid again. Using 960px for now.

Command line and Git: not so scary after all

I'd actually prefer to use these tools now over what I used to use, GitHub for Mac. This is a really big deal for me. @@Command line was about as scary for me as Illustrator was before I started this program.@@

 
 
 
 
 
 

Mobile first

I've experienced firsthand how NOT thinking about how my content will be structured at various breakpoints during the sketching/wireframing stage can lead to a lot of frustrations when you're finally building the design.

 
 
 
 

Ship first, then improve

At one point I was trying to write media queries for every.single.minor.breakpoint and was nitpicking everything in my design. My mentor reminded me that I could also adjust things later. Funny, this has been my philosophy on software teams for the past 4 years or so. It's good to be reminded that something in production is better than nothing at all.

 
 
 
 

Take breaks

I can't tell you how many times after a change of scenery (i.e., working environment) or a good night's sleep I revisited a tricky problem only to solve it in about 5 minutes (give or take...). (This is a good rule of thumb for work life, too, you guys! Our brains need to recharge.)