My Journey with UI/UX So Far…
Well hello, welcome to my first medium post. My name is Yovan and I’m a Jr. UI/UX Designer. It’s actually only been almost a year since I started to get into this field so instead of “hereby I would like to share my expertise knowledge” over the subject, I’d like to say this as a sharing session. I try to make this as concise as I could so you won’t end up in boredom (or worst, not even reading at all aka TL;DR). So without further ado, here we go…
Let’s start with some basic, what is UI/UX?
Taken from Interaction-design.org:
- User Experience (UX) design is the process of creating products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to user. This involves the design of entire process of acquiring and integrating the product. Including aspects of branding, design, usability, and functions.
- User Interface (UI) design is the process designers use to build interfaces in software or computerized devices, focusing on looks or stytle. Designers aim to create interfaces which users easy to use and pleasurable. UI Design refers to graphical user interfaces and other forms — e.g, voice controlled interfaces —
To make it short (or to paraphrase with my own terms), UX is the whole process of designing something useful and relevant for user to fulfill their needs , UI is is the interface where user interact with the product in order to fulfill their need. UX focus on functionality and relevance while UI focus on style and aesthetic. UI is part of UX as UX is the whole picture of the process, so yeah it’s quite inseperable.
And now, how do I get started with all of it?
Around the second semester of 2020, I started learning with an online course in Udemy about how to use Adobe Xd to make an application. It was a very short course but quite concise. The course familiarize me with some basic knowledge of using the tools to make a simple app. It was very very beginner friendly that I able to follow, this is what I made as I take the course:
This was suppossed to be a fanmade app about the My Hero Academia character’s profile. I try to implemented what I learnt from the course such as making a search bar, cards, icons, and more. Somehow this was the idea that come up to my mind as I try to make my first design.
To be honest I cringed so much over this as it lack so many design principles. As you can see, there’s too much space between the character photo and bio, you can’t barely see what is written in the first card of the profile page, the share icon is not even good enough. That’s just to name a few because there are actually a lot more to it. But yeah if it’s not because of this, I don’t think I’ll start designing ever. So yea it may not be a work that Im proud of but it’s still a part of my progress so far.
Obviously I’m not satisfied with what I made, so I keep on taking more online courses about UI/UX. Then I found an online UX course by Luky Primadani, one of Indonesia’s UX research role model. If on the previous course I learn about how to use a UI tools, on this course I learn more about the fundamentals of UI/UX and a glimpse of how to conduct a research to make an application. I finally learn about user journey, user flow, user Persona, what is prototyping, and many more. It was short, I’m able to understand a lot more about UX and the whole process of designing an application. Here’s what I make during the course:
As you can see, it’s getting a little bit better but still need a lot of work. I didn’t know any icon plug in or website so instead i still use circles. Eventhough, I did manage to made some icons like the hamburger option, search box’s magnifying glass, play button, and the drop down chevron. Ain’t much but it’s honest work.
So yea my early design days were disastrous, with only a streaming online course to guide me of course I lack in real guidance. Even after a couple of design courses I still couldn’t catch up with the whole material. So I started to follow more UI/UX influencers to gain more knowledge, find more study materials, books to read, and many more. By the end of the year, I finally decided to join a UI/UX design bootcamp. During the process somehow I’m really hooked into this field and decided to fully commit myself. That’s why I decided to join a bootcamp to study more and to finally have a real guidance.
As I wait for my bootcamp to start, I decided to continue practicing over my design. To be able to really get the feel over the subject, I try to make something I actually use almost everyday. Can you guess what it is?
Yup, a food delivery app. I try to trace every food delivery apps that I used quite often and make my own version. There’s actually more than just four slides to cover all the features. From all my previous works before my bootcamp. This was probably the one I quite proud of. I also manage to use this for my user testing simulation during my bootcamp. The results were quite okay eventhough there are some notes but it’s okay, it’s part of the gig. The iteration went well and I finally have my first hand experience with user testing, it was fun and somehow I enjoy that moment.
And so my bootcamp begin and unexpectedly the process went well so far and I enjoy every moment of it. Well actually it’s a roller coaster ride with so many ups and downs, a lot of insecurities, and many more. There are moments where I feel I’m nothing compare to my friends, not good enough, and left behind. I doubt myself very hard. But then I look back from where I started to where I am right now.
My bootcamp really give me firsthand experience on UI/UX field. With more in depth on the fundamenntals, I learn that no matter how good an interface is, if the experience is bad then user might neglect the app. So it’s very important to have the right process to make the right app and to listen to the user so we can iterate the feedback and gives a better update. That’s why the key of studying UI/UX is empathy, because you don’t just make an app for yourself but for others so they’re able to fulfill their need.
By the time I conduct my first research to have in depth knowledge of user insight, it was very eyes opening. All these various point of view could come up as one new feature that able to help people to fulfill their needs. It was long and quite tiresome but necessary to design the right and relevant feature.
The way I design before joining and after were also very different. After a long process of synthesizing the data to make the right app, it’s also important to have the visual design sense during designing the app. Something I obviously lacking before. For someone who have zero design knowledge and experience before, this is very challenging. Picking the right color and font, arranging the balance, making sure that everything is useful. It was very different from before when I just design as what I like. We have to prioritize our user so that our application could be handful/useful for them. Our application have to be meaningful and relevant to them so we can’t just make it as per how we wanted to but it has to prioritize the functionality.
And you know what, making a user storyboard was a lot of fun even when you can’t even draw or make an illustration. So user storyboard is bascially a short comic (usually range about 4–8 pages long) about how we perceive the app outcome. It was part of a short brief to be given to stakeholders when you’re about to or currently conducting a research for further development.
I also got more familiarized with more tools on UI/UX. When I started my journey I constantly use Adobe Xd for designing but right now I’m using Figma more often. I also been using tools such as Whimsical, Miro, and Figma newest feature Figjam as a whiteboard to help me synthesize my data. I’m also more familiar with Google docs & form to conduct my research. If you’re about to start studying UI/UX, I would recommend Figma as your starter pack because it’s already acomplete package, you can do both designing and whiteboarding, not to mention it also have collaborative function so you can work along with your colleagues. It might be take times to be familiarized with the tools but trust me we’re all start somewhere and even the expert sometime still spent more time to explore all of the tools so don’t worry.
Soon enough in a couple of weeks, my UI/UX bootcamp gonna be over. However, it’s just gonna be a new start for me to start my UX career path (Aameen to that). At the moment, I’m still finishing up my final project in order to graduate from the program. It was a long process because I did everything from scratch and by myself (well thankfully unlike before, I have guidance now). But this process always gonna be something that I treasure because eventhough what I’m currently working on is a “final project” to my bootcamp, this actually just mark my first step as UI/UX designer. Things just getting started and more to be revealed.
By the time my final project is done, I’ll gladly to share it with you guys right here. For now here’s a little glimpse of it:
To make it short, it’s an Inovation of a new feature for Gojek where you can subscribe to a food subscription service. Unlike GoFood, GoCatering focus on subscription service, not only for a single order. More details are coming soon.
So, to summarize this sharing session, what advice can I give if you’re about to start studying UI/UX or basically just curious?
- Start with the fundamental
If you’re just getting started about the whole process of UI/UX, start with the fundamental because it can get too overwhelming when you’re taking all the information right ahead at the start. Start with the basic, something that encompass all the process, the big picture. When you finally get the idea of the fundamental, then you can get into the details. Take your time, you don’t have to hurry. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Starts with something like what is UI/UX Design, what is UX Research, what UX Writing, and maybe what makes a good application. Then you can change from what to how. It takes time so just be patient, it’s part of the process.
- Don’t just learn how to design, start designing.
Sounds quite cliche but it is how it is. It’s also the advice of many UI/UX influencers. Don’t just learn the theory of the design but start trying it. Starts simple, it doesn’t have to be extravagant when you start. Just look at my first design trial, it’s horrible but it’s the start of my progress. Only when you decide to start and keep going, you’re going to see how much progress you have made. So just start, even it’s just a simple page with some words and basic shapes on it, it’s just fine. Things take time.
- Take one thing at a time
There are a lot of study resources on the Internet especially in UI/UX. When you start to picking it up it’s better to finish it first before you take on another resources. Whether it’s a book, podcast, or online courses, take one things at a time so you won’t get overwhelmed by the information. It also help you to focus better on your work, something you need later on.
- Be a good listener and stay curious
You need to be empathetic to your user as you need to understand them. Things like what they’re feeling, what they’re facing, and what they’re trying to achieve. Start small with the people around you, even it’s just a small talk, listen to them, try to understand, explore, and then you might be in a deep conversation without you even noticing.
- And again, be patient.
It’s a work in progress so you got to appreciate every inch of it. We’re all start somewhere and it takes a lot of times. So just start, take your time, one day you’ll realize how much progress you’ve made so far.
Wow, this was a long read.
Just remember, UI & UX starts with U.
Thank you and see you next time :D