From Invisible to Successful – A Design Story

There are no precisely defined processes that lead to well-constructed and beautifully executed design. Designers have the ability to change perspective continually, quickly switching between pretty and useful.

Andrija Stojkovic, UI/UX Team Lead at HTEC Group

This ability tops the list of the required skills, together with the knowledge of the audience, having the strength to defend one’s design, and of course, creativity. Then again, the experience should come first, but let’s look the other way for now until we find a definition of “having it enough.”

So, it all comes down to a mixture of these, and many other elements, which profile us into complete killer artists.

So how do you get your audience to give you the credit of a killer artist? That’s precisely the elusive part we should strive to master. You need to learn how to sell yourself, your ideas, your brain… How to understand the project, do your work and say ‘Voila!’ in the end.

Thorough research

By knowing your client’s users, and their needs, the chances of success for your end product can increase by 30%, at least. So, it’s all about understanding the project and creating user stories. Having a broad picture of a whole project and its surroundings gives us the time to play with different styles and details afterward.

Know your client’s daily routines, find out what they do in their office, and just try to make it better, easier and more intuitive.

Know your client’s daily routines, find out what they do in their office, and just try to make it better, easier and more intuitive.

So, that’s the big circle we created. Now it’s time to pixelate it. Break it into million squares which we’ll name: Tasks.
Of course, it sounds like madness, pure chaos…

And it is!

That’s because we forgot to divide them into few smaller pieces – too many of us known as Stories or Epics. They are smaller than the whole project request but bigger than a single task. Stories and Epics provide us with the ability not to forget the end goal, while still having in mind all that needs to be delivered – as one. Designing a single functionality inside a huge project is a good example:

When you’re alone with a “blank piece of paper,” everything that gets on it should have a story that you’re creating inside your mind.

Project: Facebook mobile application
Epic: Profile page
Task: Profile and cover photo layout design…
Enough with this JIRA nonsense! Let’s get back to the invisible.

Projects that you work on should, and must, have that hidden segment. When you’re alone with a “blank piece of paper,” everything that gets on it should have a story that you’re creating inside your mind. If you repeat that story a couple of times, you are already practicing your presentation and negotiation skills. After that, iterate. Iterate a lot!

Then ask yourself a question: is it useful or is it just nice? Feel free to ask a colleague for an opinion, because you do work in teams.

And of course, iterate again.

As time passes, and you have put a lot of sweat and tears into your work, you’ll become more confident that you’re doing the right thing. Then comes the moment to go back to your initially created user stories and check if you have fulfilled them. Believe me, many improvements can come out of this trick. This makes your, as well as your team’s, engagement on the project longer. Somehow, you’re already selling. Long-term projects usually allow this kind of design-driven sales.

User role play

Playing this game with your colleagues or even clients can contribute to the quality of the end product. Let them try and use your designs in their way, and see if it gets the job done.

If not, iterate!

A/B Testing

Try this once in a while. Not too often, because you will double the work, clients will get used to variations, and your self-confidence may get in trouble. Use this carefully and preferably on small things (color combinations, font sizes, small layout tweaks…).

The idea is to make an adventure out of every task while avoiding all the frustration.

The tedious part is the discipline of design

But it is as important as things mentioned before. It’s the part where other designers see you as an amateur or a professional. You must deliver pixel perfect, nicely grouped, precisely named files in order to deliver a complete end product. It’s all about practicing skills and self-improving on every level. Even on this one.

How would you feel if the items on your mockups jumped around from one place to another on a big presentation?

As written at the beginning of this text, there are no precisely defined processes that lead to a perfect approach and solution to any given assignment. The idea is to make an adventure out of every task while avoiding all the frustration. By doing that, your creativity level will continuously rise, you’ll continue to love your work, and in the end, your beer will taste better.

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