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Starting Out As A New UX Designer — How To Get A Job ASAP

Summary: Focus on the work first, job applications and marketing second. The most important component of getting work as a designer, is having a strong portfolio of work.

I’m currently teaching UX Design at General Assembly. Aside from the fact that I’m learning a lot, I’m also inspired by the courage and tenacity of my students. Most of them have years of experience in a previous career, and are starting in a new career that is completely foreign to them. The strength of character required to undertake such a feat is enormous.

I also noticed how hard it is to find a job when you’re just starting out as an entry-level UX designer — even in areas of the world that are full of UX design jobs.

That got me thinking: if I had to start over again today, how would I do it?

This post will answer that question. Read more

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Designers: Stop Saying Yes, Start Asking Why

Summary: Good clients don’t want you to do what they tell you — they want you to listen to what they say, then use an insight-driven design approach to give them what they really need.

The students I teach at General Assembly work with real companies at the end of their bootcamp. Something I hear them say over and over when I dissect their designs, is “The client asked for this” or “It said so in the brief”.

This is a phenomenon you don’t just see among fledgling designers: designer meets with client. Client asks for a specific solution— an app, a specific layout, to please “make it look like Apple “— and the designer nods and does what the client asks. No research insights, no talking to users, just following the client’s wishes.

It’s the wrong approach.... Read more

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Designers: Stop Caring So Much About Your Portfolio Site

Obsessive man laying on grass, perfection

About once a week, I browse around at reddit.com/r/design_critiques and give advice to new designers on how to improve their work and workflow. A recurring question I see all of the time is "Please critique my portfolio site".

Some of them are good, some of them need work, but the recurring theme is that they 1) hand-code their sites and 2) spend way too much time trying to get it "perfect".

It's a mistake I made when I was younger as well. But after working in the design industry for almost a decade, I've come to understand an uncomfortable truth: Read more

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Designers are whiners

I've worked with companies large and small over the last decade, and something I've noticed is this propensity of designers to complain. Some of the complaints include:

  • Not getting the final product to look exactly as they had envisioned it.
  • Having to go through many revisions and seeing 80% of your work unused.
  • Products you work on never launching.
  • Clients taking control of the design process.

I used to complain when I was younger as well. I think part of it may be Read more

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Just got my oculus. I tried out the introductory demos and the 3D photos. First impressions of UX and the implications I see for the future: Read more

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The “Explain Like I’m 5” Guide To Modern Design Process

I've been designing professionally for nearly a decade. If you do anything for that long, you start to notice recurring themes. One of those themes is that most laypeople have no idea what these terms that designers throw around really mean. They don't understand what a UX or a UI is, what a wireframe or a mockup is, what's the difference between a frontend person and a UI person, etc. The result is that you have all of these terms thrown around interchangeably, and it makes communication very difficult.

It's not their fault – the terms are confusing and I'd wager that half of the designers don't fully understand the terms(I didn't for years). Believe it or not, there's no simple, down-to-earth guide that explains design to the layperson. This is my attempt to fill that void. I've been using a similar explanation for people I encounter in real life, and it's been received well. It contains almost no design-lingo. Read more

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Starting A Business Is The Ultimate Design Challenge

I'm a big proponent of the Design Thinking / Human Centered Design framework. For those who aren't familiar with it: it's essentially taking the principles that the best designers use to create world class products, and applying it to larger scale problems.

If we take this type of thinking to its logical conclusion, what is the most complex problem you can undertake? I'd say it's starting a business.

What is a business? The word is so overused that we need to settle on a definition for this essay. Read more