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How can I get good at visual and interaction design?
If you asked me for a two year plan to get good enough at programming (from scratch) to do it professionally in a team development environment, I could give you an exact one (What's Ambert Ho's two year plan to get good enough at programming (from scratch) to do it professionally?). What might be a similar plan for visual and interaction design? Edit
Comment • Share (1) • Options • Redirect Question 11 Answers Brandon Harris, Senior Designer for Wiki(p|m)edia
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First things first: it is a mistake to constrain the word "design" to only "making things look pretty". That aspect is actually the least important, in my opinion. Design is about understanding problems. When you understand a problem fully, the solution nearly always becomes obvious. The road to becoming a good designer is the same path as becoming good at anything else: practice, practice, practice. Give yourself design problems, both simple and complex. Think about resolving things you encounter every day: Stop lights. Cross walk markings. Microwave oven panels. Automated teller machines. Point of sale credit card machines. Paperclips. All around you are real-world problems that have designed solutions. Study these problems and their solutions. Research why certain decisions were made (why are stop signs red?). Come up with better ones. Build better mouse traps, as it were. Pay attention to details, especially with well-designed objects and systems. A great thing to study is the interiors of aircraft. Why are things locked in certain ways? Why are the cabinets sized specifically? Understand simplicity and ease-of-use. Why do police officers carry their gear in certain ways? What is the value of having the communications nodule mounted on the shoulder? Why are sidearms never slung for crossdraw? Police and military equipment is usually top-notch for simplicity and easy of use (consider explosive charges, stamped with "THIS SIDE TOWARDS ENEMY"). When you start to understand the problems, you understand the solutions. And you can make better ones. And, most importantly, you will be able to communicate your designs. Practice, practice, practice. Practice your tools. Learn Photoshop, or Illustrator, or whatever. Learn color theory and psychology. Learn when to innovate and when to imitate. Be comfortable with stealing
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learn and apply Fitt's Law.   http://attentionwizard. respectively. compelled to contribute -> scroll to bottom and enter an answer.. while working your way back to convention until you've reached a solution. The flow for this Quora webpage is to digest the question. The user is left in 3 possible states: satisfied -> click back button. Sketch Buy a moleskin and start sketching.usertesting. Test Test.org/wiki/Fit. 3. They will overlook the obvious.creativesoutfitter. Dannon Loveland. and then find a suitable answer. ask friends and family if you can observe them using interfaces they are familiar and unfamiliar with. faces). color.quora. unsatisfied -> scan right column for similar questions.com  http://www.. test!  You will be shocked how users will use your product. (more) Interaction Design 1. And then you will be good.wikipedia. Product Manager 72 votes by Marc-Oliver Gern.  http://fivesecondtest. When you're working on a section.. Begin by thinking unconventionally. Once you've decided on a flow.com  http://feedbackarmy. and for each section..use these to your advantage. Aj Badder. test. practice. When you're starting out.com/Communication-Design/How-can-I-get-good-at-visual-and-interaction-design Page 2 of 10 .co.com  http://crazyegg. whitespace. content.com  http://en. Flow For each site.com Visual Design 1. practice.(62) Communication Design: How can I get good at visual and interaction design? . A confused or frustrated user is never his or her fault. 1 Comment • Share • Embed • Thank • 12 Nov Ryan Glasgow. control a user's eyes with images (esp. headlines. A design should always have control over a user's eyes. There's an abundance of tools to analyze your designs flow . always begin with the question "what task is the user trying to accomplish?". sketch as many variations as you can. for each page. 2. Get feedback and share your ideas early and often.Quora 9/18/12 6:35 PM ideas and having your own ideas stolen. and then complain to you about it. Practice.  http://www. If you are developing a web app where users repeatedly make the same action. ignore convention. Study http://www. Learn how to get inside your target users head and emphasize.
. It's about http://www.com .  http://Dribbble. Gradient. and where the color and opacity stops are placed.. and which ones are avoided (Inner glow..com  http://DeviantArt.com  http://icondock.wikimedia..com  http://www. designs. Bevel. Also learn how to properly use noise.org/wiki.net 2.com  http://www. When you're working on a particular feature. visual design has become mostly about piecing together existing elements in an original manner. Color overlay. Suggest Edits Comment • Share (2) • Embed • Thank • 18 Nov Jason Carlin.com 4.  http://www.com 3.com  http://Behance. font libraries . I've seen a wallpaper posted on Dribbble  mixed and sourced into dozens of apps.com/wun. James Thornton. graphics.dafont. Disect Download PSD files from websites where other designers share the original source.  http://dribbble. Look through the layers and see how they are blended and pieced together. I'm sure the asker knows that design isn't just the pretty pretty.com/Communication-Design/How-can-I-get-good-at-visual-and-interaction-design Page 3 of 10 .(62) Communication Design: How can I get good at visual and interaction design? .google. and is quickly becoming stale. Google 29 votes by John Cappiello.. Guys. Satin). His question is very clear.com  http://subtlepatterns.  http://geomicons. Open the each layer's style panel and learn which styles are commonly used (Drop shadow. Keep a strong list of icon packs. Stroke).com/shots/31901-. and when / where it's appropriate. Do you believe that skeumorphism makes a user more comfortable with an interface because of its familiarity? Who and what are the inspirations for your work?  http://upload.com  http://glyphish. Every designer has his or her own war chest of resources and be sure to keep your sources fresh and up-todate so that next time you need an icon you don't turn to FamFamFam. search for that element and see how other visual designers have styled it..6wunderkinder. and pattern/texture sources on hand. Dig through a beautifully constructed gradient and learn how it was pieced together. (more) Man.. Stylize Develop your own style that reflects your values as a designer.  http://365psd. Pattern.com  http://DesignMoo.com/webfonts  https://typekit. Sr Designer. Inner Shadow. these are some highfalutin answers.com  http://www..Quora 9/18/12 6:35 PM Browse websites where top designers share their work.fontsquirrel. Collect Just like engineering is now typically begun by piecing together open source abstractions. Andy Brett.quora.
Quora 9/18/12 6:35 PM finding some insightful tips that might make his prototypes a bit more presentable. And don't forget to check Dribbble daily to see what the cool kids are doing. Here are a few good rules of thumb: Consistent light source – You light should probably come from 90 degrees above. Jr. Bam! A sense of depth with no need for shadows! Try this: border:1px solid #999. Be subtle – Going overboard is a rookie mistake. Make sure your shadows and gradients all reflect this. consider using #222 or #333 for your standard text.com/Communication-Design/How-can-I-get-good-at-visual-and-interaction-design Page 4 of 10 . Director of UX at Blazing Cloud 10 votes by Ambert Ho. for instance. 4. Even a nearly imperceptible grade will change the feel of a thing.(62) Communication Design: How can I get good at visual and interaction design? . box-shadows. border-bottom-color:#555. http://www.quora. and text-shadows. Physicality Want people to want to click your buttons?> Make them look fun to touch. Give them dimension using CSS gradients. Wei Wuang. 2. dark text-shadow offset UPWARDS by 1px. 2+ Comments • Share • Embed • Thank • 23 Nov Loredana Crisan. Ways of making an element more important feeling include: Placement (top left is a pretty important spot) Size Contrast Color Padding (don't crowd the king) 3. Line everything up with something else. as in life. Line things up You don't have to go all the way to using a real grid for the sake of a prototype. Being part of a design team in any capacity (intern. but neither should your element placement be random. Most of you are too busy being insecure about a designer's place in the world to actually give the guy some help. Seriously. The hover state should usually be higher contrast. Jason Brewster. Design is highly dependent on feedback and collaboration. If not. or inset box-shadow to make the thing appear depressed when clicked. don't screw this one up. Weighting Think about levels of importance and make sure everything on the screen has a visually presentation appropriate for it's level of importance. (more) I will say that the best way for someone to "hack" themselves into being a designer is through mentorship. Border colors – A subtle and underused method of creating dimensionality is to simply use a darker border color on the bottom (or top). and the active state might use a darker background. inset boxshadows. it had better be an intentional design motif. If your design includes a lot of pure black and pure white. gradient. 1. So here goes. Inset text – Putting text on a button with a gradient? Consider a subtle. borders. Subtle colors In design. nothing is ever black and white. Here are some easy rules of thumb to help your rough prototype interfaces look a bit less rough. Button states – Include :hover and :active states for your buttons.
Things to practice/learn Design patterns/conventions. You'll want to be familiar with all of them and know when each is appropriate. Try out as many solutions to the task at hand. Tools Most designers I know use one of Adobe's Creative Suite apps for detailed designs. alignment.quora. Note that visual design is a discipline in and of itself and requires an entirely different knowledge set.com/Communication-Design/How-can-I-get-good-at-visual-and-interaction-design Page 5 of 10 . http://www. card sorts. Balsamiq or Fireworks. How to formulate and present research findings in a simple. learn about its context (who will use it. branding. etc. when. etc. Things to practice/learn How to brainstorm "big picture solutions" while keeping all the requirements in mind How to mock up design concepts (sketches. Think of error recovery. Think of transitions between states. validate them.reuse components/styles where appropriate to create coherence (if applying visual design) Hierarchy. typography. or software such as Telescreen. as you try to define the application's goals (what it's supposed to do). Detailed design Be aware of. colors. etc. Your goal is to land on the best possible direction after evaluating all the possibilities. you might use pen and paper for notes. Conceptual design It is said that "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. Treejack. AB tests. As far as stuff to know. This is when you must know all applicable conventions and be very mindful of user expectations. people hate to read instructional text) Simplification and consistency . interviews. what technology will be employed. in the expert mind only a few. wireframes) Tools Varied tools are useful.surveys." You'll want to always have a beginner's mind. Things to practice/learn Design research methodologies . or validate different design approaches. user expectations (ex. Design research Every design project will involve a formal or informal research process. Cardsort. usability tests. Innovate. actionable way. Tools Depending on the research being conducted. etc). This is also often when visual design is applied. and create detailed mockups for every state of every screen in your application.(62) Communication Design: How can I get good at visual and interaction design? .Quora 9/18/12 6:35 PM designer) will offer opportunities to learn and practice designing "in the real world". mock them up. here's a quick shot at some main requirements. from pen/paper and whiteboards to software such as Omnigraffle.
While you are applying the hard thinking to an interface. Switch this up for each project and start to develop a style that you like. resulting in either presentations. (more) The core of great design is the ability to put yourself in someone's shoes and experience the world from their point of view. Ideally one where you can go to someone that fits your target audience and see if your solution fits their needs. the more useful the feedback. 1 Comment • Share • Embed • Thank • 11 Nov Rob Szumski. they probably have meetings. Rackspace 6 votes by Ambert Ho. or interactive prototypes. Marco Dalla Gatta. Know for example that CSS uses horizontal and vertical offsets for shadows. but learn what makes an impactful presentation. if you deal with writing Hadoop software at your day job. Things to practice/learn How to speak to an audience When to crack a joke How to create interactive mock-ups and prototypes Programming fundamentals . I'd suggest trying to tackle a problem that is very far outside your knowledge and comfort zone.(62) Communication Design: How can I get good at visual and interaction design? . For example. You might want to illustrate certain interactions using click-through prototypes. observation and prototyping. Keynote. a variety of software programs are used (Adobe CS. or encourage theft? Should you display a heatmap of robberies for this area of the city? I brainstormed all of these questions in less than 5 minutes. you might to show iPad app mockups on the actual device. Once you have a handle on this design problem. try to apply a photoshop tutorial or copy a style of an application you like at the same time. Kyo Kusanagi.are there training manuals online? Newspaper articles that chronicle a day-in-the-life? Know one that you can talk to? Are these guys unionized? If so. limitations. Another aspect of design communication is documenting the detailed design for implementation. . take a shot at designing a mobile application for armored car drivers: What type of information is most important to accomplish their route every day? What is their competency with technology? How can you shape the experience of a new driver tackling a route for the first time? Does displaying the amount of money the truck is carrying increase the vigilance of the crew. you can start to design for them. Go answer all of these by reading about armored car drivers -. http://www. Practice makes perfect here. The more effective you are when presenting a design. You can develop this skill by getting to know the users of your product/interface/whatever through user research. go to one. etc. only increase their stress level. advantages.Quora 9/18/12 6:35 PM Design communication A lot of your time as a designer is spent communicating your ideas to people. Once you can do this. Powerpoint. This is critical to the project's success and depends on your level of technical knowledge. pick something completely new and do it all over again. so don't supply the engineer with the Photoshop rotation degree which wouldn't directly be usable. User Experience Design. Wikis). syntax Tools Again.frameworks.pdf documents. Learn engineering-speak.com/Communication-Design/How-can-I-get-good-at-visual-and-interaction-design Page 6 of 10 .quora. For example.
The quick answer is that: 1. Ultimately. Understanding these objectives helps guide you in making better design decisions -. Now. whether if you'd stay motivated throughout the project and whether if a particular feature. 2. "how"s and "why"s of design. this comes down to understanding objectives. And in order for any organization to http://www. to reverse engineer what I went through and to provide you a roadmap as per Ambert Ho's answer.whether if the project you're making would be used by anyone at all.(62) Communication Design: How can I get good at visual and interaction design? . You need to know how to program because it helps you communicate better in a team setting. There's no right answer to all of these things because it depends on a given situation and what the objectives are at that moment. Objectives of the business or organization that you're in (or would be in). Ambert Ho. You need to understand the "what"s. content or function would be needed in the project. So. That's why designs are typically about solving problems/achieving goals and monitoring how well your design is doing against those objectives. I think you need to understand three pieces to the puzzle.I don't know if there isn't such a thing. They all just happened because I had a need to learn the right things. on to the the details. helping people or helping yourself learn something. Designer at 37signals 5 votes by Ronald Ip. you'll need to know: Why Why do we need great designers? Why do you want to be a great designer? How How do you become a great designer? How can a design solve/accomplish a problem or a goal? What What do you need to do to solve a problem or goal? What skills do you need to have/develop to design the solution? The Why's Great designs improve people's lives and you need to see why or how you fit into that picture. (more) I believe a good designer needs to have a solid foundation in web programming. even if the goal is to spend 90% of your time in Photoshop or talking to your users. Comment • Share • Embed • Thank • 10 Nov John Chan.whether if it's for making money. To be a professional designer. I would think the minimum is 6-12 months to develop the technical skills bit if you're passionate about what you do or care about the people you're building things for.quora. but it should get you started. Objectives of the site or project that you're building. I didn't need any reminders of why I need to stay motivated or road maps for myself on what I should learn next.Quora 9/18/12 6:35 PM That's not a two year plan. This isn't a 2-year plan -. you'll naturally think critically as a designer would for solving any problem at hand. it helps you understand the technologies behind a design and it helps if you can build a prototype that you can go talk to your users yourself.com/Communication-Design/How-can-I-get-good-at-visual-and-interaction-design Page 7 of 10 . And objectives of your own incentives in the project -. Once I figured out the why's of design: the what's and how's of were self evident because there was a purpose and drive to do what I needed to do. Gemma Weirs.
even if you don't know what the hell they're talking about. you're in the wrong field and you probably don't want to get get into it. I started obsessing over how I can help other businesses and organizations succeed through great designs. Google Analytics. But nothing really happens until you do something. innovation. wow. It can be frustrating but it'll expose you to a plethora of problems and different ideas. And I want in on some of that action. A side project. etc. chances are. Build or work on something that somebody else made before. it exposes you to the very best in the industry and tells you what they're capable of.com/Communication-Design/How-can-I-get-good-at-visual-and-interaction-design Page 8 of 10 . You'd be surprised how much those http://www. I need to become valuable to them. how'd they do that? -. Wow. I learnt about PHP. you want it to be a rewarding experience. You get the idea. removed features. Chances are. Conferences or events are great for that -. added features. Initially. Maybe it's means you'll have to make your own site. That's why when I look at people like Jared Spool. Start by imitation. And since I see the impact of how great designs positively affect businesses or organizations. you need talented designers that understands the vision and have the technical abilities to see it through. If you're not impressed by what they do.I need to find out.(62) Communication Design: How can I get good at visual and interaction design? . It'll lead you to read stuff from Smashing Magazine or A Book Apart or whatever it is that everyone's talking about at that moment. If you don't want to freelance. And that leads us into.. This can be daunting but it also begs the question: why do YOU want to be a designer? Is it because you're good at drawing pictures? Is it because you see things that most people don't? Is it because you can make a lot of money in it? Ultimately. internet marketing and all kinds of stuff. my driving force to becoming a better designer is because I want to create my own start-up and run my own business. you'll figure out what you'll need to learn because new problems and goals would come up..maybe redesign something for a charity because you can walk away from those projects if it makes you uncomfortable or if you get bad clients. Dan Rubin and Whitney Hess I get inspired by what they do because they help organizations succeed. Just do something. This is crucial because this builds you "real world experience"." That's why you need people to look up to. Just be clear about what you want out of that something. Once you set a goal to work on your own thing. just volunteer -. So I redesigned it. I never noticed how much thought they put in to make Amazon so easy to use" or "wow. All I wanted to do was find out how I can make more ad sales on it. The How's How do you become a professional designer? I go by: imitation. Doing so will lead you down a path of self-discovery where you'll come up with your own objectives and your own problems to solve. I had no idea what I was doing half the time so I did a lot of my own research. A third option is to take on an existing project.Quora 9/18/12 6:35 PM accomplish their site objectives. But next thing you know. I can't believe how well that project is performing even though I can think of 10 ways to do better than that". Passion comes from looking at something and go "wow. traffic analysis. so that I can become valuable for myself.quora. Make your own blog. So you'll want to find cool projects you can copy from or look for someone that makes amazing work and follow their footsteps. For example. SEO. wow. Another idea is to do client work. you wouldn't be able to solve it right away. Something that I've done is I bought a Photoshop directory off Flippa and I started poking around in it. repetition. but don't fret: Google is your friend.. It doesn't matter. But if you leave with a feeling like "that's so cool you can do that" or "wow.
Perhaps I'm optimistic but I certainly believe it takes less than two years to become a professional designer.quora. The key is understanding the bigger picture.Quora 9/18/12 6:35 PM the product or service. I would suggest reading The Elements of User Experience by Jesse James Garrett because that would give you a better understanding of design and how visual and interaction design contribute to the overall user experience.com/Communication-Design/How-can-I-get-good-at-visual-and-interaction-design Page 10 of 10 . Having said that.(62) Communication Design: How can I get good at visual and interaction design? . Hope this helps! Comment • Share • Embed • Thank • 15 Nov About Jobs Privacy Terms • Help • Shuffle Mobile Site http://www.whether if this takes 2 years or not is entirely up to you. And that's it -. So a failure in a design doesn't necessarily mean you're not a good designer.
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