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What no one tells you about being a UI/UX Designer!

I am an engineer who fell in love with design 3 years back. Without any formal education background in design I began to learn the basics of design and UX principles. I wanted to share few learnings which I feel would help a newbie to become a better designer.

Two years back when I decided to become a UI/UX designer, I quit my job at one of the big 4 consulting companies. My first question to Google was “How to be a UI/UX designer” and I browsed through hundreds of articles and courses in the next few months to get my first break. Internet is flooded with courses, articles, videos and blogs but often the basics are skipped and most of them talk about strategic design. When I started my first job I realized that basics have to be right before the strategical part comes into play. So here goes a list of things I feel I should have known when I had first started out on this beautiful journey of design:

1) Work on your visual design skills. When creating final designs focus on creating pixel perfect designs. Most of the blogs you’ll see, will ask you to focus on content, information architecture and HCI, which of course isn't irrelevant but it’s like asking a child who does not know the alphabets to create meaningful sentences.

2) Learn your tools well, be it Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop or Sketch, spend 10-15mins each day to learn the shortcut keys, they will not only increase your speed of working by multiple folds but will also open up new ideas and styles of working.

3) Don’t hesitate to copy other people (but don't forget to give them credit for it). I have never seen any designer who in their very first shot created a masterpiece. For most of us when we start, we don't even understand which elements create a masterpiece. It’s a good thing if the designs you create are not upto your expectations, because that is the only way you will be able to learn. So practice. Practice a lot. Question, and think why a particular button is placed at a particular position, why is the navigation menu horizontal instead of vertical. Have the heart to learn from others, unhesitatingly.

4) ery early in my career as a designer, I learned that for my design to be successful, other teams have to be successful in their interactions and communications. As a designer, focus on your communication skills, learn to communicate but most importantly learn to listen and understand other people’s thoughts, ideas and feedback. Be very open to feedback, yes I know it is annoying and not very pleasant to hear 20 people give criticism. But develop the heart to listen to them, believe me it will improve your work by leaps and bounds and also make you respect other people’s opinions. If you want to have empathy for your users, have empathy for people around you.

5) Observe, observe and observe. Don't skip this part, this habit will take time to develop but put in effort to observe till it becomes your second nature. Everything around us is design, everything! Here I will share a very ordinary example, the benches in the park and pavements are purposefully designed to be uncomfortable so that people don’t sleep on them. The designers very tactfully used designed to solve a social problem. Having keen observation skills is crucial to become a good designer.

6) Make continuous efforts to understand your users. Talk to them, interact with them, observe them. Focus on understanding them. User Psychology is a very important part of design. The ability to understand people, their habits, their behaviors is what differentiates a good designer from an extraordinary one!

These tips will help someone who wants to start his career as a UI/UX Designer, in order to be an excellent UX designer one needs to understand the user but one also needs to understand the system through which the user will interact. Design is about improvisation, and good human beings make good designers. Focus on improving yourself each day and in no time you will be a designer you wanted to be :)Hope you enjoyed reading the article! Feel free to add more things you feel a newbie needs to know before starting a career as UI/UX Designer.

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