This article is based on what I do to keep up to date with the ever-changing world of design. I am a Digital Designer, for a renowned Edinburgh based design agency, but I was not always that. I have a degree in Interaction Design but it was through my personal work and dedication that landed me jobs in design. This is what I did and still do today to keep on improving. Every day is a learning day!
1. Practice practice practice
If you do only one thing from this article, then I would highly suggest it should be this. Practice your interface or graphic or whatever design you do, at least 3 days a week. This is crucial if you want to improve your design eye and to improve your skills on certain software like Adobe and Sketch etc. I tend to try and design part of a website (particularly home/landing pages) on multiple different design software each time so I can get practicing with all the many design tools out there. Or I will illustrate something like an N64 controller or a dog to build up my illustration skills. Or work on creating cool typography for a poster design to build up on my graphic design knowledge. Do anything to help build up your skills and learn something new. I tend to be inspired by watching Youtube videos or seeing a shot on Dribbble and trying to re-create it in my own style. One thing I want to do more of is carrying a sketchbook around me, so I can doodle down some ideas that pop into my head or just to sketch down something I have saw that I can use in a future project.
2. Learn from others
In my previous job as a UI/UX Designer, I was the only designer at my company and I had no other designer to consult with regarding important user experience decisions or the visual design of a button etc. I did have developers on hand and I regularly asked them their opinions but they don’t have the same eye as a designer has. Now, I work with a Senior Designer and a Design Director and it’s so much better. Having an experienced team around you to give opinions, show you a trick or two and see how they work has been brilliant. I feel like I have learned lots…and I’ve only been working with them for 3 weeks!
3. Get on Dribbble and/or Behance
I love Dribbble! It’s an online community for designers to share and comment on each others work. It’s my number one source for inspiration. Behance is very similar but I find that Dribbble has more an interactive community so you will tend to find me more on that platform. It’s also a very handy way to showcase your work and create your own portfolio…I do recommend you have your own website too though!
4. Watch videos
Youtube is a fantastic platform to learn from. I follow many designers on there who share their skills in the form of tutorials or in a vlog type style where they share their experiences of working in the design world. My favourite channels right now has to be The Futur, Jesse Showalter, Yes I’m a Designer, tutvid, Flux and CharliMarieTV. There’s many more out there and they all post content every week so it’s great to watch after work chilling at home or, like what I do, at the gym while cycling on an exercise bike! I also just subscribed to a couple of Udemy courses and so far they have been excellent too in teaching me more design/development skills.
5. Read books & articles
I love reading design books for inspiration and knowledge. The ones I have read recently are Book of Ideas — a journal of creative direction and graphic design, Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products and Sprint: How To Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days. I also love reading articles on sites like Medium and Invision. These are great for generating ideas on how to tackle design problems and a great reference for the future.
6. Listen to podcasts
On the bus, at work or working out, I try to listen to many design and tech podcasts such as User Defenders, The Verge, and Design Matters. There are loads out there and they help me think and put my mind in the right gear, especially at the start of the day.
I’ve been doing the above list, every week, for nearly a year now and I have seen a massive improvement in my design skills. If there is anything that you do that I haven’t listed, I’d love to know! Thanks for reading and I hope it helps you improve your design further 🙂 You can find me on Dribbble here.