The more I work on exciting projects, the more I feel there is to learn and discover. I definitely don’t feel like it’ll get mundane anytime soon. For students wanting to branch out into the digital world, I recommend reaching out to people in positions you aspire to, exposing yourself to ideas behind the work, and practising collaboration. Here are the things I’ve found most useful so far:
Brushing up on case studies
Another tip is to read a lot of UX case studies. These can be from agencies you admire. For me this’ll be: Momkai, Bakken & Bæck, Parallax, (naturally) Huge Inc, Ueno, Focus Lab, Stink Studios, and more. But there are a lot of case studies on Medium from designers who find a problem and come up with a solution purely for fun. Not only will this show how they’re written, and the methods used to come up with creative solutions, but it’ll also expand your imagination and highlight ideas that you may have never thought of.
Mastering the tools
This is the same for design tools as well. Currently I’m a big fan of Sketch for both wireframing and designing, as I can layout of every page – desktop, tablet and mobile – in the same file and it’d still be a smaller file size than Photoshop, all the things that make developers happy. Then Principle or After Effects for when I’ve got particularly exciting interactive ideas that I want to portray but can’t do it in words. However, I’m still a firm believer in core design skills, such as coming up with solid concepts and collaborating to come up with solid foundations to build great interfaces on top of.
Researching and documenting in detail
Some of my biggest learnings have been the importance of strategically documenting user research and discovery stages in detail, before launching into making marks or playing with visual styles and layouts. While previously, at the beginning of a project I’d have reached for a pencil and notepad. This is very strategic and may seem slow for someone who just wants to focus on their craft, but enables everybody to take the project one step at a time, and not get a wrong footing in understanding the user’s needs.
Go with your Gut
While some of my designer friends who didn’t go to university are far better at their craft than I am, I found that the journey through university was one of exploration as well as studying and craftsmanship. Especially with a graphics degree as varied as Leeds’. Each brief came with room for us to find out how we wanted to compete it. So going with your gut on what area of design you feel does or doesn’t work for you, will reveal opportunities tailored to your personality in the long run. And if the opportunities don’t present themselves, make them.