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Archive by Nathan Wood

2020 Trends: Web

14Feb

 

Hello! I’m Nathan. I’m a UX designer here at Passion Digital and I’m going to run through the top three web trends for 2020.

 

Design Style

Number one: I’m going to talk about design style. We are looking at a period now where minimalist design is very popular and flat design is on the way out. However, there’s still going to be attention to animation. Animation is looking like it’s going to play a big role this year, so companies will be spending a bit more time looking at transitions and small animations to help guide the user towards where the company would like them to go.

 

Device-Agnostic Experiences

Mobile first has been an approach for a very long time. Now instead of designing mobile first and looking at doing everything first for mobile, then tablet, then desktop, companies are focusing much more on what a user uses at the start of the experience, what they use in the middle and what they use at the end. They may be on their watch, they may be doing voice commands with Alexa or they may be on their desktop – and these interactions may happen at different stages in the experience. We’re a lot more focused on specifics.

 

AI and Machine Learning

There’s an anticipation that the home page is going to die a horrible death and we are going to be presented with an opportunity where a user can land on a website’s tailored landing page. With all the data that’s been harvested now, companies will be able to identify the location, browser history and maybe some specifics about the user like age – so they will be able to tailor landing pages specifically to those groups. It will be a much more targeted experience.

 

Let me know what you think of my top three web trends for 2020 in the comments!

 

Looking to bring your website’s design into the twenty-first century? Get in touch with our talented web team – we’re here to help you revamp your look into something sleek, modern and cutting edge!

 

Transitioning from Graphic Design to UX Design: The Perks and How to Do It

13Dec

User experience (UX) design is still considered a relatively young discipline. While people transition into the industry from a range of different backgrounds, it’s probably a more obvious switch for visual designers. A common misconception is that UX designers need to have amazing visual design skills – they don’t necessarily. The eternal debate of whether they need to be able to code also rages on. While these skills will benefit a UX designer, the real strings to your bow are actually problem solving, an analytical mindset and empathy.

 

Here’s the T junction. If you’re a graphic designer looking to enhance your visual design skills into the web space then seek development towards user interface (UI) design. If you’ve got a curious mind and want to learn more about the psychology behind users interacting with digital products then seek out a progression towards UX design. Think of a house – the decorators are the UI and the architects are the UX.

 

I’m Nathan, a UX/UI Designer here at Passion. If after that breakdown you’re still interested in UX then you’re in the right place.

 

What is UX?

UX stands for user experience – and that’s exactly what it is. It has to do with how someone feels while they are interacting with the interface of a device of some sort, most commonly a website, desktop software, web application or mobile app.

 

As web technology became more and more advanced, simply having a functional interface wasn’t enough – it had to be intuitive to use and relevant to the specific target audience as well. And thus, UX was born. If you haven’t had the pleasure yet, check out Don Norman’s (the godfather of UX) rant about push/pull doors. You’ll soon realise that the practice is valid everywhere and not just on digital devices.

 

 

Some of the key principles include:

  • The users’ needs are met while meeting business goals
  • There’s consistency to your design
  • The design is easy to navigate and use
  • It’s simple in both its language and design – you should be aware that less is more
  • Understanding your user group(s) thoroughly

UX designers will be pleased to know that the industry is doing well. Their services are in high demand, from businesses that want to improve their websites to digital marketing and design agencies looking to expand their in-house team. As with all technology, this discipline is constantly evolving… so make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the trends that 2020 may hold.

 

UX vs Graphic Design: What’s the Difference?

As previously stated, UX’s purpose is to perfect the architecture of a product by getting to know the user groups, exploring user journeys, interviewing and testing iterations until a framework is ready to hand over to visual designers – it relates mostly to improving the user’s experience. Graphic design, on the other hand, has to do with with the design of an interface, such as the colours, imagery and typography.

 

If they sound similar, it’s because they are – graphic design is a component of UX. However, there is a major difference between the two disciplines. While the graphic designer simply focuses on creating a visual identity for a project (such as the spacing, colour, typography, layout, etc.), the UX designer takes it one step further by also considering what the user is attempting to accomplish by using this particular interface and the environment they will use it in.

 

 

For example, imagine that you’re developing an app for hikers to use out on the trails. A UX designer would want to interview the hikers and gain a deeper understanding of their needs from the app. Perhaps they want to plan and review information before going out on their hike and then, while out on the hike, use the app for a different purpose – like GPS positioning. That level of context and understanding helps develop a fully considered product. Basic prototypes could be created and tested with the hikers with rounds of iterations following until the product is refined and ready to handover to a visual designer.

 

Hikers will likely be outside during the daytime, meaning their phone screens may be difficult to see in direct sunlight. A UX designer would be aware of that, and make decisions about their designs based on that (for example, using features such as large text, high contrast and dark-on-light colour schemes).

 

 

Should You Make the Switch?

If you’re keen to stay in the problem-solving space and learn more about how people interact with digital products, then definitely!

  • UX designers have a good salary – often better than graphic designers
  • It’s challenging enough to be engaging but rewarding enough to keep you motivated
  • You get to use your problem solving skills daily
  • The industry is booming – currently there is a huge demand for senior UX designers and not enough skilled people to fill those positions
  • Having a digital presence is mandatory for today’s businesses, meaning that there will always be a demand for this skillset
  • It’s relevant across all industries, making this a job with a lot of variation – you’ll get to work with many different kinds of clients
  • It’s very sociable, so if you enjoy getting away from your desk regularly and talking to people, this job will be a great fit for you

So… How the Heck Do I Go About Landing My First UX Job?

If my blog post has inspired you to make the switch from graphic designer to UX designer, taking the next step may seem daunting, especially if you don’t have any UX-specific work experience. Don’t worry – if you’re nervous about taking this plunge, there are lots of places to begin. Here are a few potential starting points.

 

Read up on UX and talk to relevant people

 

The first step to creating great UX work is to learn from experts in the industry. There are lots of design-focused blogs out there that are chock-full of useful knowledge, such as the intuitive and informative UX Movement and UX Planet, a great option for beginners.

 

If you’re old fashioned and prefer to glean your information from books, I would recommend borrowing or buying The User Experience Team of One: A Research and Design Survival Guide by Leah Buley and The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman.

 

Don’t worry if you’re not one for reading – London has more conferences on user design principles and user interface design than you can shake a stick at. If you’re on a budget, consider UX Roundabout; it offers free weekday sessions hosted by big brands and companies. However, if you can afford to splash the cash, UX Crunch is just £15 and has sessions specifically catered towards UX designers who are just starting out their careers.

 

 

Plump up your portfolio

 

You know you’ve got what it takes to become a UX designer – so show it off to the world! Consider cultivating an online presence. It’s becoming more and more common for designers to create content and then host it on digital platforms. Personally, I like using Behance. Not only can you easily share your work with the world (and potential employers), you can also see what other designers are doing and get creative ideas.

 

You should also make sure you’re not only sharing high detail visuals. In all honesty, it’s best to put the least amount of emphasis on these projects as that is UI design, not UX design. If that’s your bag, totally fine, but if you truly want to branch out into the work of UX, you want to limit those lovely visuals. Instead try to showcase work that shows how you have identified friction points and ways in which to solve them. This is usually done during initial discovery and design iteration phases and so should typically involve rough notes, sketches, post-it notes and very basic wireframes. Try to tell a story of how you crafted the structure to suit the user group and business goals.

 

Lastly, take on passion projects. No, I’m not talking about working for Passion (although we are a great agency and are always looking for new talent!) – I’m talking about taking a website or app you love and use frequently and picking it apart. Do user testing on it with others or simply identify problems you’ve encountered yourself. Rip up the script and completely restructure it, and remember to make lots of sketches and keep lots of notes explaining your thought process. Potential employers will love your drive and initiative, and want to see how you got to your finished product.

 

 

Ace your interviews

 

You’ve learned the basics, your portfolio is starting to get filled and now you’re ready to land your first big UX job – all you’ve got to do is ace that job interview. Here are some tips that I always use to help me before and during interviews:

  • Do a UX audit of the company’s website – there’s a high chance they’ll ask you what you think about the services they provide, so it’s a good idea to have something prepared
  • Think back to past interviews you’ve had and reflect on where you excelled and which areas you could improve – keep these thoughts in mind while prepping for your upcoming interview
  • Come up with a few different visual mediums you can use to showcase your work
  • Don’t show too many projects – think quality over quantity
  • Tell stories to your interviewer – explain problems you’ve encountered in the past and what you did to solve them
  • And, of course, it never hurts to picture your interviewer in their underwear – everyone seems a lot less intimidating in pants and a comfy T-shirt

Transitioning from graphic design to UX design is a great step for many visual designers. I hope this blog post has answered all of your questions about the differences between the two and how to get started in the world of UX. Who knows – this career change could be the best decision of your life!

 

 

When it comes to UX design, Passion Digital is here for all of your needs. Whether you already know the areas where your business’s website needs help or are unsure where to begin, our team of friendly experts are always happy to help. Get in touch today for a consultation!

 

How to Collect an Effective Design Brief

27Sep

You’ve finally done it: secured your first graphic design job! Now all that’s left to do is wait for the brief. This can be a struggle in and of itself, especially if it doesn’t give you all the information you need. Luckily, both graphic designers and their clients can easily avoid ineffective, incomplete briefs.

Below you will find some of the most important aspects of a design brief… so as long as you’re sending and receiving ones that include all the following information, creating the perfect graphic design project the first time around will be a breeze.

Get an Overview

The very first thing you’ll want from your brief is an overview of what exactly you’re meant to be designing. Keep the following questions in mind, and if you find that you don’t have some information you need, don’t hesitate to ask your client.

  • Why is this project being commissioned?
  • What are the goals of this project? Do some outweigh others?
  • What needs to be done?
  • Are you starting from scratch or redesigning something?

Know Your Audience

Knowing your target audience will help you to make better design choices. Your brief should let you know which types of customers are most important to your client. Is their focus on businesses or individuals? Do they want to appeal novices or experts? Is the audience older and reserved or young and hip? All of these factors and more will help you with your project.

Understand the Brand

Just as you want to know your target audience, you also want to understand the brand of the business who is hiring you. Ideally your brief will have a sentence or two letting you know what services or products they provide, what makes them unique, what values are important to them and how they want to come off to customers (do they want to seem like an expert or a best friend?). Knowing the ins and outs of a brand will help your design emulate the company’s ethos.

Get Some Guidelines

Just about every brand has some visual guidelines to which you will have to adhere. They will likely have specific colour palettes, fonts and a logo, so it’s important to know whether or not they want you to stick to their previous marketing material or if they’d like you to go forth and create something completely new. Your brief should give you information about how the company would like you to convey their visual identity.

Specify Any Specifics

Ideally there will be a section in your brief that will give you all the specific details your client would like you to include in your final product. Having a list in front of you telling you exactly what your client wants will help you know what is expected of you. It can also be very useful (and save you a lot of time) to know any preferred file formats, resolutions and dimensions, and whether the finished product will be displayed online or in print.

Don’t Forget the Nitty Gritty Details

While the big picture is definitely important, you’ll also want your brief to include smaller details. Make sure you and your client agree upon a budget that works for both of you, and a timeline you can realistically follow. You’ll want to know the due dates for each stage of your project and you’ll want to make sure you’ll be able to stick to them while still giving your client your best possible work.

If you’re new to the world of graphic design, it can initially be a bit confusing knowing exactly what a client’s brief should include. Fortunately, after a few projects you’ll get the hang of it… and, until then, you can refer back to this list to make sure your brief is as detailed as possible. Happy designing!

Here at Passion, we have some of the best graphic designers in London. If you’d like to learn more about our design services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. And to those of you who are new to the world of graphic design, keep checking back to see what training services we’re currently offering. There might just be a course that could help you expand your skill set and land your next big job!

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