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Posts on UI/UX design education, career development, and more.

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Grids In Graphic Design: A Quick History, and 5 Amazing Tips

Design History

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Grids In Graphic Design: A Quick History, and 5 Amazing Tips

Take a design course today, and one of the first things you'll learn about is the concept of a “grid”. But things can quickly get fuzzy. Grids come in all shapes and sizes, and they have a long and complex history, stretching back to humankind’s very earliest manuscripts.... Read more

Collaboration: The New Revolution In Design Software

UX Design

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Software Tools

Collaboration: The New Revolution In Design Software

The recent release of Figma 3.0, a collaborative interface design platform, reminds us how far software has come since design went digital over 30 years ago. And it’s not just about the superior speed or technical capabilities of the tools we have today; it’s also about a cultural change that goes back to the middle ages.... Read more

Microcopy 101: How To Write For Successful Products

UX Design

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Microcopy 101: How To Write For Successful Products

I know what you’re thinking. Microcopy? What is that even? Like, tiny words? You wouldn’t be entirely wrong, though let’s put a pin in that for now and just talk about regular words for a moment.... Read more

Service Design and UX Design: What’s the Difference?

UX Design

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Service Design and UX Design: What’s the Difference?

Chances are you loaded this page because you’ve heard of service design but aren’t clear what it is. In this piece, we’ll explain the place of service design in relation to other design disciplines, including UX, UI, and product design. We’ll then look in a little more detail at what it means to take a service design approach to a problem, and we’ll identify the kinds of problem that service design is optimally placed to tackle. Finally, we’ll identify some of the opportunities we see for service designers in a global world facing increasingly complex, interconnected challenges.... Read more

The Dada Movement: 5 Lessons For Today’s Designers

Design History

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The Dada Movement: 5 Lessons For Today’s Designers

Picking up where we left off with our pieces on the Bauhaus and Brutalist movements and what they mean for today’s designers, this week we’re taking a look at the Dada phenomenon that emerged during the first world war, and considering what lessons we might (or might not) take from it.... Read more

11 Tips For Designing High-Converting Landing Pages

Tips & Tutorials

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11 Tips For Designing High-Converting Landing Pages

A landing page is any web page that a user might “land” on – it could be the homepage of a whole site, or a page that presents a specific product or event. Generally the purpose of a landing page is to rapidly introduce a product through concise text and clear images, and then invite the user to take a specific action – perhaps to sign up for updates, or to make a purchase. In this piece, we take a look at how you can create a high-converting landing page design of your own.... Read more

17 Principles For Giving Highly Valuable Design Feedback

Tips & Tutorials

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17 Principles For Giving Highly Valuable Design Feedback

Whether it’s hearing comments from a client or contributing to a design critique with colleagues, receiving and offering feedback is a crucial part of any good designer’s daily work. The most effective people in our industry know that cultivating feedback skills is key to improving their own design work and enhancing their team’s creative output. That said, giving valuable feedback can sometimes feel like an elusive process. To supplement our checklist on how to give critique, we’ve put together a checklist below on what to look out for when you’ve been asked to give feedback on someone’s work.... Read more

How The Thanksgiving Covers Of These 3 Magazines Show 110 Years of Social Change

Design History

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How The Thanksgiving Covers Of These 3 Magazines Show 110 Years of Social Change

If you’re anything like me, over the past few days you’ll have grown pretty tired of the promotional visual language around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But a look at history proves that these kind of informal, throwaway graphics can serve as significant documents of the times in which we live. In this piece, we’re taking a look at the cover designs of 3 twentieth-century magazines — Good Housekeeping, Saturday Evening Post, and American Weekly. You’ll be fascinated not only by the evolution of their graphic language, but also by how they reflect changing social norms around the family and gender roles.... Read more

The Ultimate Guide to Becoming A Designer Without Going To Design School (Part 2)

Changing Careers

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The Ultimate Guide to Becoming A Designer Without Going To Design School (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the options for getting trained up as a professional designer without going to design school. But your preparation for a career in design doesn’t end just because your course did. In this installment, we’re taking a look at what comes next – including how to present a portfolio and what to put in it, as well as how to identify job opportunities that are a good match for your interests and skills. We’ll also cover some of the bigger questions about embarking on a professional design role – above all, what your goals are.... Read more

Halloween special: the tricks and treats of UX design

UX Design

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Halloween special: the tricks and treats of UX design

In the midst of the strange celebration that is Halloween, it seems fitting that we take some time to consider the ways that designers are also engaged in the business of disguise and deception, of tricks and treats. In this article, we’ll first ask how designers are called upon to trick their audience – whether by designing seductive packaging, choosing attractive typefaces, or crafting addictive apps. Then we’ll examine some examples from history, where the manipulative capacity of design has been used to glorify war, sanitize scandal, and draw people in with promises of meaning and belonging. Finally, we’ll look at 10 of the most common tricks and treats in user experience (UX) design today.... Read more

12 Writing Tips For Non-Writers

Tips & Tutorials

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12 Writing Tips For Non-Writers

Writing is becoming an increasingly important skill for designers, whether it's creating meaningful copy to use instead of placeholder text, writing on the company blog, or creating snippets of text for use in email campaigns or UI mockups. The good news is that you’ll be familiar with many of the skills needed for good writing from your work as a designer. In this post, Andrew Wilshere, who heads up Designlab's content team, gives his personal tips on creating blog posts and long-form articles.... Read more

The Ultimate Guide to Becoming A Designer Without Going To Design School

Changing Careers

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The Ultimate Guide to Becoming A Designer Without Going To Design School

Chances are you landed on this post because: 1) you hate your job, 2) you need a change, and 3) you’re thinking about making design your new career. If so, congratulations – you’ve already taken the first, and perhaps the hardest, step. You’ve set your heart on a career in design, and you've committed to a new, more rewarding professional path. If, however, you’ve only recently started considering a career change into design, it’s worth taking a bit of time to get familiar with the design profession, to explore the different career paths that are open to you, and to think about whether you might eventually want to specialize in any particular field.... Read more

What does the iPhone X’s AR engine mean for UX Designers?

UX Design

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What does the iPhone X’s AR engine mean for UX Designers?

Apple today announced the latest iteration of the iPhone – the iPhone X. Alongside the usual incremental improvements that most of us are now largely indifferent to, the arrival of iOS 11 does deliver something more significant: a mainstream, mass-market mobile product that for the first time has an Augmented Reality (AR) engine baked right into the OS. Read on for an explanation of what AR is, and a look at its current and potential future applications. We also explore what AR could mean for UX designers, and, finally, our take on the $162bn question: are people going to use it?... Read more

The Picasso You Didn't Know: Pablo Picasso's Illustration and Design Work

Design History

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The Picasso You Didn't Know: Pablo Picasso's Illustration and Design Work

As the Picasso Cohort of UX Academy get started this month, we thought we’d take a closer look at the story of Pablo Picasso’s life and work, and pay tribute to his extraordinary range of talents. Primarily famous as a painter and sculptor, he also left a lesser-known body of work as an illustrator, graphic designer, and political activist. In this piece, we briefly tell the story of Picasso’s career, present a showcase of some of his book illustrations and poster designs, and provide a heap of links to more of this great artist’s prolific output.... Read more

Are Notifications A Dark Pattern?

UX Design

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Are Notifications A Dark Pattern?

Have you ever had a nightmare where you were literally drowning in little red notification badges? I did once, and it got me thinking: what actually are notifications? And are they just another dark pattern – a form of coercion and online trickery? In this article, I explore the phenomenon of “pseudo-notifications”, and conclude with some thoughts on what the future might hold for notifications as a design pattern.... Read more

Great Design Thinkers: Frank Chimero on The Shape Of Design

UX Design

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Great Design Thinkers: Frank Chimero on The Shape Of Design

This is the second in our series on contemporary design thinkers. In the first article, we explored how Tim Brown, CEO and President of IDEO, developed the idea of “design thinking”. This time, we’re taking a look at the ideas of Frank Chimero, who describes himself as a multi-disciplinary designer, accidental writer, and lapsed illustrator. He’s best known for his beautiful and insightful book The Shape of Design, which has recently been reissued in paperback and is also available to read online for free. In this article, we’ll explore 4 key lessons from Chimero’s work.... Read more

What On Earth Is A Brutalist Website? 5 Things Today’s Designers Can Learn From Brutalism

Design History

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What On Earth Is A Brutalist Website? 5 Things Today’s Designers Can Learn From Brutalism

Last year, the Washington Post reported that “the hottest trend in Web design is making intentionally ugly, difficult sites”, an approach which they called “web brutalism”. Since 2014, the site Brutalist Websites has been collecting examples. But is this what Brutalism, a twentieth-century architectural movement, was really about? In this article, we’re going to take a look at the history of Brutalism, examine the principles behind the movement’s architectural designs, and see how those compare. To round up, we’ll set out 5 key lessons that Brutalism could offer to today’s designers.... Read more

Watch John Berger’s Amazing “Ways Of Seeing”

Inspiration

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Watch John Berger’s Amazing “Ways Of Seeing”

John Berger was an English artist, writer, novelist, and critic whose 1972 TV series and accompanying essay, both entitled Ways of Seeing, became essential reading for students of art and art history. In Ways of Seeing, Berger presents an analysis of our cultural relationship to art and advertising. He argues that high art is characterized by subliminal themes of male dominance, female objectification, personal property, landowning, and social power.... Read more

From MS-DOS to Material Design: A Brief History of User Interfaces

UX Design

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From MS-DOS to Material Design: A Brief History of User Interfaces

A while back, we took a look at how to get started in user experience (UX) design. In this article, we're going to follow that up by looking in a little more depth at one aspect of UX–user interface (UI) design. In this installment, we’ll explore the importance of interfaces, examine how UI design is distinct from UX design, and take a brief look at the history of UI design. Stay tuned for Part 2, where we'll discuss what UI design means today, check out some case studies, and point you to further resources.... Read more

11 Tips For Building Great Color Palettes

Tips & Tutorials

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11 Tips For Building Great Color Palettes

Whether you’re a novice or an old hand, how to use color is one of the most contentious and elusive questions in design. Colors have myriad cultural, social, and emotional meanings, and the complexity of choosing a palette isn’t made any simpler by the fact that a designer’s options are practically infinite. In this week’s article, our in-house design guru, Patrick Multani, shares his tips for how to build great color palettes. Let us know what you think in the comments – and feel free to share any other tips that you use in your work!... Read more

10 Ways To Excel In A UX Bootcamp–Even With A Full-Time Job

UX Academy

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10 Ways To Excel In A UX Bootcamp–Even With A Full-Time Job

In his Commencement Address to Stanford University in 2005, Steve Jobs told students: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” If you're dissatisfied with your current path and are passionate about design, programs like UX Academy offer a portal to a new career. But retraining can be tough going, as you learn and apply new skills, complete demanding coursework, and often hold down the day job as well. To help, we've put together 10 tips to help you excel as you study, including advice on how to manage a packed schedule, eat right, and dispute self-doubt.... Read more

Where will UX design be in 5 years? 5 Predictions

UX Design

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Where will UX design be in 5 years? 5 Predictions

O'Reilly's recently published 2017 Design Salary Survey showed not only that designers working in UX command the highest median salary ($89,000), but also that those adopting new tools like Sketch, and agile, iterative ways of working, attract the highest pay. In this article, we explore the future direction of UX design within the wider industry, and explain why we believe the trend towards hiring UX expertise will continue in the years ahead.... Read more

3 Obsolete 1990s UX Design Classics That We Love

UX Design

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3 Obsolete 1990s UX Design Classics That We Love

In this article, we’re going to take a look at three iconic pieces of consumer gadgetry from the 1990s, and analyse what it was about their user experience design that made them so popular. We’ll examine the Psion Series 3 line of palmtop computers, the much-loved Nokia 5110 cellphone, and the PalmPilot personal digital assistant (PDA), the last of which helped to push the mobile device sector towards embracing touch screens and gesture input. Picking up where we left off in our Getting Started in UX Design article, we’ll analyse how each device matches up to the UX honeycomb, and conclude by asking what today’s UX designers can learn from these products, how they succeeded, and why they declined.... Read more

7 Reasons Why You Should Get Into UX Design

Changing Careers

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7 Reasons Why You Should Get Into UX Design

What is user experience (UX) design? And why is it so big right now? As well as answering these questions, this article will explore how UX design can enhance people’s lives, how the industry will change and grow in the coming years, and how you can get trained up as a UX designer without going to design school. Oh, and did I mention that the average salary of a UX designer is approaching $90,000?... Read more

Getting Started in UX Design

UX Design

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Getting Started in UX Design

Ask anyone who’s recently browsed design job listings, and they’ll tell you that the demand for UX designers is high. More importantly, the demands made of those designers are constantly shifting in light of new and improved technologies, and in response to changing user needs. In this article we’re going to explore what UX design is, and how it’s different from user interface (UI) and visual design. To help those deciding whether to embark on the journey of becoming a UX designer, we’ll demystify core UX terminology, introduce some key tools, and point to further reading and resources so you can continue your learning.... Read more

Learning in the Bauhaus School: five lessons for today’s designers (and five ways the web still is Bauhaus)

Design History

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Learning in the Bauhaus School: five lessons for today’s designers (and five ways the web still is Bauhaus)

The news that Harvard University has put over 32,000 digitised Bauhaus School works online set the creative world buzzing recently. In the 1920s and 30s, Bauhaus teachers and students challenged the conventions of fine art, architecture and design by advocating a return to individual craftsmanship, and seeking designs that were simple, rational, and functional. In this article, we’ll explore what the movement was about, outline five lessons the Bauhaus School can offer to today’s designers, and demonstrate how contemporary web design continues to show Bauhaus influences.... Read more

How To Give And Receive Design Critique Well

Tips & Tutorials

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How To Give And Receive Design Critique Well

It’s pretty unusual to find someone who enjoys critique. In this article we’ll look at what critique is, why it matters, and why we should all learn to love and cherish it. We’ll explore what is involved in conducting a good design critique, and outline some key principles for how to give good feedback to others. In conclusion, we’ll offer a few words on how to receive critique well, and look at a 10-point checklist to help you next time you’re invited to comment on somebody’s work.... Read more

How to Get Hired: Understand If You’re an I, T, or X-Shaped Person

Changing Careers

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How to Get Hired: Understand If You’re an I, T, or X-Shaped Person

Do you and your organisation have strength in breadth as well as depth? In this article we explore how important “T-shaped” people are to effective collaboration, and suggest some ways to expand your own set of skills.... Read more

Sketch vs Illustrator: which one should you buy?

Software Tools

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Sketch vs Illustrator: which one should you buy?

It’s six years to the day since Sketch first launched. But how does it stack up against Adobe’s Creative Suite workhorse, Illustrator?... Read more