Join Jim Heid for an in-depth discussion in this video UX and web design, part of Creative Pro Careers: Staying Ahead.
- These days, new phones, tablets, wearables, and other connected devices are coming out all the time. Because of this, it's increasingly important for creative pros to have skills that are centered around designing digital experiences, including websites, mobile apps, wearable technology, and other connected devices. Even if you won't be creating these experiences yourself, having a foundation in their concepts will help you collaborate with your colleagues who do. Now digital media are changing all the time and design trends are always evolving too.
For example, the concept of responsive design, which refers to the ability of a website or an app to work well and look good on a variety of different devices and screen sizes. Now at the risk of stating the obvious, the web is a much more interactive medium than say print or broadcast. Designing for the interactive nature of websites and mobile apps requires more than just a good eye for design. You also need a keen understanding of who will be using the experience you're designing, why they're using it, and what they hope to accomplish.
All of this is called user experience research and it can help you understand how to gather, process, and act on the needs and goals of your target users and that can help you design awesome websites that only look good, but are also functional and efficient. After you've done your research and developed clear requirements and user scenarios for your project, it's time to start designing. Many digital designers prefer the all inclusive nature of Adobe's creative cloud tools including Illustrator, Photoshop, and Experience Design which is often abbreviated XD.
At the same time, a lot of user experience designers have been gravitating toward lighter weight vector tools like Sketch from Bohemian Coding and Affinity Designer from Serif Labs. Those tools provide a lot of design power in a more focused direct tool set. Right now, Sketch and Photoshop tend to lead the pack across today's design teams. The file formats from both apps are broadly supported elsewhere, for example in the asset libraries and user interface frameworks that web developers use.
So if you're serious about designing modern digital experiences, it's worth it to learn these programs. Once you've begun designing a website or app, the best way to measure and improve its effectiveness is through regular prototyping and review. This is where it's important to have solid prototyping skills alongside your design chops. You can easily share and review prototypes with your team and with clients using prototyping products like InVision and Axure RP. Going through cycles of prototyping and review will help you arrive at and justify design decisions early in the process with your team, your clients, and your users.
It helps you inform further refinements to your designs and adds a degree of confidence to the process that you can't get when working in isolation. With working prototypes in hand, modern design teams run extensive user tests to validate their ideas before kicking off development. Even if you're not working in a design team or agency, knowing how to collect and review objective feedback from users will be incredibly helpful. It'll help you catch key usability issues that might otherwise turn into headaches later on.
After a website or app is designed, it needs to be built by a development team. There are well-established rules of engagement for designers working with developers, similar to the relationship between a designer and a commercial printer or service bureau. Once your prototype is working well with your target users and your team, you'll need to work with your developers to make sure the visual and functional intent of your design is accurately realized. To make this process go smoothly, you should have a good knowledge of the development workflow.
Collaborative design tools like UXPin and Zeplin can help here by making it easier to develop conventions for sharing graphics and stylistic information with your developers. They help you build an efficient bridge between design and development. So you have amassed these skills and you decide to devote more of your career to user experience design or maybe to one of its subspecialties like UX research, interaction design, or UX strategy. For a great overview of the spectrum of user experience careers, watch this course by Cory Lebson.
It outlines the broad field of UX and its related disciplines and helps guide you according to your particular skills and interests. And finally, be sure to position yourself for success with a design portfolio that will get the attention of clients and potential employers. We have a great short course on creating and maintaining a UX portfolio. Watch it to make sure you always put your best foot forward.
- Identifying essential creative professional skills
- Reviewing different creative tools
- Learning about the field of graphic design
- Working in the photography and video fields
- Working with audio and music
- Reviewing motion graphics and 3D animation
- Working in UX and web design