The Switch

Posted by Annelise Rhodes on 24 January
Annelise Rhodes

So, a few days ago I’m going through my morning routine, it’s 9:00 a.m... or maybe it’s 9:07? Depends on how long the line at my regular coffee shop was. Now I have my coffee, I’m at my desk and I’m reading my email newsletters.

On this particular day an article catches my attention more than it usually would. Why? Because it relates to me and the position I’m currently at with my career. Don’t you love when you find a killer article to read? It kicks off the day just right! Anyway, you can read the article here if you like. If ain't nobody got time for dat, the title of that article was 'Making the switch from graphic to UX/UI design.'

To give you some background, after finishing my design degree I started my career as a junior graphic designer for a small creative agency. Having spent a couple of years there and graduating to mid-weight designer I felt the need for more of a challenge. My fair share of InDesign layouts was done, and I’d dipped my toes into UI design for a few websites.

Designing for the web felt so much more rewarding and each time proved more and more of a challenge. So much so, that I decided to make ‘The Switch’. Now I’m here.

I know I still have more to learn, but these are the most crucial lessons I’ve learnt so far -

Experience

It should not be hard to use a digital product. Our job is to make the experience for a user as friendly as possible. To scratch our brains and try to think about every possible scenario that a user may encounter. Not to make people think! Then we make sure these scenarios align with a solution which is delivered in a (hopefully) seamless experience. This avoids someone throwing their phone against a wall because something isn’t working the way they want it to - trust me, I’ve felt like doing this more than once.

Users tend to share their experiences with others about both the products they love and hate. It is one of the most common ways that people find out about products. They aren’t just talking in person, they are talking on many other digital channels. And no one likes a bad rap.

Looks

This was a big misconception I had at the beginning of ‘The Switch’. In the end, you hope that a product looks nice but this isn’t the be all and end all of that product. How do you talk to your users? Who even are your users? How are they using your product?

Communicate to the people using your product and it will enrich the overall experience. Experience is the key (if you hadn’t already picked up on that). Know your users and their journey through your product. Research and testing, if you have to (you most definitely will). This will inform you on how to talk with them and provide insight into exactly what they expect from the product. It is so so so important to get this right! Make time for this above all else.

Iteration

Once a product is “shipped” continue to know what is happening. How are people are using it? What is going well? Are there pain points? Where are they? Testing is something that I would love to delve into a little deeper. It helps us as product designers to understand if our original speculations were correct or not. Great digital products keep evolving. Add features, remove features, learn from the users to keep improving the product and better the experience. Simplify.

Wisdom

One of the most profound benefits from ‘The Switch’ is that I’m now surrounded by designers and developers I learn from and it’s exactly where I want to be. Make mistakes, put a button where it shouldn’t be, be questioned by people as to why it is the way it is. Attend events with colleagues, or even host one. Talk to like-minded people and talk (a lot) about products and listen to people’s stories. If you absorb as much as you can - it helps, even those morning newsletters. All of these things go a long way to making you a better product designer.

Ok, now I’m getting a little too motivational speaker on you. So that’s the crux of my ‘switch’ here’s to hoping I add more to the list as I learn and evolve as a product designer.

If you find what I find interesting and like the sound of my morning routine, the UI/UX related newsletters I’m subscribed to are:

Topics: Design