What a time to be a designer whatever you are in the field of UI/UX, Interaction Design, Product Design or a Graphic Designer in transition. There are many incredible design tools out there and we are lucky to have such a variety to get things done or to integrate into our workflow. But now the thing is, which one is the right tool or the ultimate tool for my personal work? Your studio? Your organization? To be honest, there aren't any right or wrong answers. It all depends on what are the needs and what are the things you wanna accomplish. On my recent experience, I was asked to integrate Atomic.io into my design process as an experiment. I was surprisingly amazed by how it has changed since my last use of Atomic which was probably about two years ago. I will share with you the things that I liked and what I disliked, so here goes. Disclaimer: That is NOT a sponsored post, my opinion and feedback shared in this article are explicitly based on my own user experience. Thank you for reading! More Links Try Atomic From the Atomic Team Learn Atomic What the interface looks like What is Atomic.io Atomic is a prototyping tool that puts advanced interactive design features like logic, data, and variables. The first win for me is the fact that Atomic is browser-based, you can have the freedom to either prototype designs whenever you are on a Mac or PC. I am personally a Mac user (for Sketch) but some companies/startups out there are building their development structure in relation to PCs. On Atomic, you will be able as features: Basically design from scratch in Atomic or you can import your design Add interactions like gestures, user inputs, events and keyboard interactions. Learn Atomic through ultra-quick tutorials that teach you everything from the basics right through to advanced features. Animate your prototypes using One-click page transitions or finely controlled keyframe animations. Build reusable interactive components help you quickly scale designs while maintaining consistency. Introducing external data sources to create dynamic, realistic interaction designs. Create logic to handle complex, personalized user journeys. Share components, data, templates and more with your team via Atomic’s built-in libraries. Share links, provide feedback, design simultaneously. Access your designs anywhere through the Cloud UI Interface Since I haven't played with Atomic in years, it was almost like a new experience. At first glance, there is a hint of Sketch in Dark Mode but you have your toolbar on the left side instead of on the top. In Atomic, at the top, you will have what I called: Create Toolbar. You will be able to create a component, a mask, introduce a scroll and group your elements/layers. On the right side, you will have your alignment options, layout options, and appearance options. What's different though are the sections: Image (Inheritance), Actions (for your hotspots) and CSS (custom or export). Understanding Component vs Interaction Hotspot I would be honest, it took me a little bit of time to understand the intent of making a component and creating your interaction hotspot. It's very different but once you understand their properties, everything else goes pretty smoothly. You have to understand that if you wanna create an interactive component or shall we say a UI element. You will have to define its different state first because placing it into your prototype to make an interactive hotspot. It's a bit tricky at the beginning but totally right after your first try. What's good? Well as I mentioned before, I just like the fact that you are working within the browser. It's pretty fast and one thing that worked pretty well for me was the integration with Sketch. Yes! You can work on your low-fi and hi-fi prototypes in Sketch and simply sync it to Atomic. I can hear some designers mentioning the fact there are already those functions on Sketch, let's say we are doing different experiments with our process. If you wanna learn more about the Atomic Sketch plugin. Tip: before you sync your artboard to Atomic, make sure your settings are fixed with the project (on Atomic). Aside from the tool itself, I would say I love the community support around Atomic, you can supercharge your workflow with prototyping samples, resources, UI kits, navigation samples, tutorials and more. I would like to share a story where I had an issue during prototyping and I contacted Atomic for help. What's a game-changer is the functionality to collaborate and share links between us and the experts. Imagine sending a link from my prototype and one of their experts replied a new link with an updated functioning prototype with a tutorial on how to reproduce. It wasn't a company who sent them that email, it was an individual (me) asking for help. To me, that's awesome and one of the reasons why I am writing this article. Furthermore, this tool is completely free with full access to their features, unlimited prototypes, unlimited projects, and no usage limits. *Drop the mic What's bad? I wish the design tool feature was a little bit more robust like Figma for example so whenever you wanna design straight into Atomic, it feels more intuitive. I haven't played long enough with Atomic but I had this feeling during my participation. I wanted to experiment without thinking that I could do the "same thing" on Sketch or at the least it feels like a vector tool for example. Conclusion We can go more in-depth Atomic for our next article, maybe a tutorial? Let us know of your thoughts, do you use Atomic? What was your experience and do you still use it? What are your design tools that you use every day? You can tweet me @AoiroStudio. More Links Try Atomic From the Atomic Team Learn Atomic
This is a different approach from our usual feature on ABDZ but this might be greatly useful if you ever get this opportunity. Last week, I (François Hoang - Chief Editor on ABDZ) was on my flight home from an onsite interview I had in San Diego for a UX position. This was my first experience and I wanted to share my thoughts about the things I've learned and what I would improve if you ever get this opportunity. Beforehand, I would like to mention that I won't share any details about the company I was interviewed because of a non-disclosure agreement I signed. Also, I would like to send my regards to the awesome folks I've met along the way (Cheers!). To be able to actually come to an onsite interview, you have to go through a series of phone calls and video conferences. It's usually about 2-3 meetings and if you made the cut. You will get to hear those words: " We would like to invite you to an onsite meeting". OH YEAH! Party time right? Not really, just hold off before you can say anything to your relatives or friends. This is just the beginning of your journey. First Tip The waiting game, I think this is the most brutal part of my whole experience. The wait for email replies and checking your notifications all the time, it almost feels like your current life has been put on hold. The first tip, don't get alarmed about what might be going through your head or the thought about they might have changed their minds on you coming or not. People are busy and they will get to you when it's the time is right. You would rather take this energy and be focusing on doing your homework. First Task: Homework This is an interview but try to change the perspective as if it was a UX project. For this first task is all about research. We are grateful enough to have Google as being the biggest searchable library ever, use it for your own benefits. Try to learn and understand the company’s history, philosophy, products/services, marketing, target audience, design process, tools and etc. This way you will be prepared when asked: What do you know about our X company". This exercise helped me a lot because I was able to understand more things beyond the company logo. Don't forget that user experience is not related to interfaces only, it's all part of everything the users interact within reach of the company logo. For my case, I had the opportunity to own the product for a little while. I decided to use it every day and see what was my feedback as a user. What I would definitely improve on the design side and if I've found any bugs too? It's NOT a vacation trip We are pretty excited (including me) when you get the chance to fly for free to a destination that you have never been before. Remember that you are traveling for "work" and usually what you have planned to do like shopping, tourist stops never ended up happening. You can always ask if the company is willing to book you an extra day or two but you will pay the extra for the hotel fees. It's always good to ask. Make a Presentation For my onsite interview I never saw the mention of having a presentation ready, gladly I made the right move and had one ready. Don't forget that you are traveling all the way across and some people you are meeting probably didn't even read your resume. Play it safe and have one ready. Your presentation should be short, on point and playful. When you going through your portfolio; focus on the points that they need to hear about what they are looking for that UX position. I made a mistake when asked about: "What is the one project that you are most proud of", I decided to go with a project because it was a team effort and process, we had a beautiful outcome on the client side. I was in fact very proud of this project! But I should have stayed with a project that was more around UX and what was the whole process behind to achieve success. Your presentation should also reflect your personality because you will probably talk about yourself for 20-30 minutes. Remember that you are meeting the team that will potentially see you as their next colleague. No harm in slipping a few jokes! Design Challenge or the Whiteboard Design Challenge That famous whiteboard challenge, the exciting part. I was a bit scared and skeptical about this challenge but to calm things down. The whole point of this exercise is that your future team wants to see how would you react in front of problems. Are you a problem solver? In this case, there are many solutions to the problem. Don't be shy to ask questions, sometimes the task can be super vague. For my case, it was about: Creating our startup as a pet caring company. We went through different steps including our goals, customer goals, and business goals as well. We didn't get to the point where we would wireframe but overall I loved this exercise. It definitely helps you think about the problem instead of trying to find the obvious. If this is something that you are not good at, practice makes it perfect. Always try to balance questions with answers, it helps to enhance the collaboration in the room. Be Yourself To end this article, I would like to share Fabio's advice. "Show that you are passionate about your work and simply be yourself". Don't try to be somebody that you are not. If they see you as a great fit for the company, well amazing news for you! If not, there is plenty of great companies out there. Take it as a learning curve! What you have learned from this experience and what would you improve on the next one. Recap Video More Links Follow my tweets @aoirostudio Follow my pictures on Instagram Cover Image by Marcel Fuentes
What should be my design title? This is a different approach from our usual inspirational features, hope you will follow along. This question was brought up by a good buddy of mine on what should be his design title? It wasn’t a question of “Fake it till you make it” but mostly what are the industry standards nowadays in terms of what is my title and what are my roles? For this article, let’s go deeper for the case of what are the differences between a UI/UX Designer, an Interaction Designer, and a Product Designer. Shall we? I took this comparison's case because it has been brought up many times during the course of my career and the last few years with the popularity rising of the UX. Whatever if you are a beginner, professional and even if you’re a freelancer. Let’s be honestly, most of us who comes from a background of graphic design and we aren’t being called graphic designers anymore. I know some people who still hasn’t done this switch in their careers and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. As long as you love what you do, nothing else matters. One thing to remember though is there is no ultimate goal in our field, everything depends on what do you wanna do with your career. Image by Ruthson Zimmerman What is UI and UX? Here we go! In the simplest explanation, UI is about what you see and UX is all about what you feel as a user and user experience. This role means that you’re juggling between both what’s visual and the overall experience. It’s one big giant role to be in and some companies do in fact mixed it all up (between UI and UX) which is not always right. From creating your visual path for each screen, page or elements and by the same time following what has been done on the UX side of things. On top of that, you’ll be working at creating style guides and ensuring a design language across the board. Image by Andrew Welch What is an interaction? In my opinion, during the course of a project; this is usually worked near the end from the design process. It’s basically animating all the static design into a fluid transition across the product. Sometimes it can be done for a certain element in particular but overall it’s always been figured it out as we go along. For example, what happens the interface does after a user clicks on this button. How the content appears? What transition effects to use? Motion becomes the main part of the interface by providing visual guesses as to how to use the product. Image by Carl Heyerdahl> Product Design We often say that UI/UX designers do become Product Designers and why is that? In my opinion, it’s an all-inclusive term of being a designer who is involved in every step of the process including what you see and feels but also conducting user research, design UI interfaces and create UI assets. Their understanding of the user and the product itself goes beyond since they have the capabilities to select the problem and address it with either prototyping and even front-end coding. Their role involves also testing in generating solutions to problems. This is the role that we keep hearing about since companies tend to hire designers that understand the user experience, research and visual elements. Voilà! This is what these roles meant to our industry, hope these were helpful during the course of your research or growth perspective. One thing to remember though is there is no ultimate goal in our field, everything depends on what do you wanna do with your career. If your goal is to be that catch-all designer, then you have to step it out so you can understand every single compartment of a product or keep crafting your skills in your desired role. We are lucky to be in our growing community that is not shy to share knowledge or even skills. Hope you have enjoyed this read. More Links Follow my tweets @aoirostudio Follow my pictures on Instagram
I will start this post off by saying that everybody is creative and for some that might come as a surprise, but I believe in the idea of creativity as a means of solving problems; the easiest and most efficient way possible. When I say easy I'm referring to the timeframe that it takes to complete the task, and efficient to how well received the work is from the target audience. But the question is what to do when we cannot come up with any good idea or the so terrified creative block. The creative process is something unique because it’s personal, we cannot teach someone how to come up with ideas but we can learn how to organize our thoughts in order to make our ideas easier to achieve in the form of a good design. At least in my opinion and let me explain why. Overflow of Inspiration We are bombarded with information all day long and even when we are sleeping we might dream and have ideas and therefore inspiration. That is good in terms of having lots of resources available but it’s really bad as well because with that amount of information it’s pretty hard to make a decision. That’s why I believe that our decisions have to be made with goals in mind and these goals alongside with a clear idea of our target audience will help us filter this avalanche of ideas and inspiration. ...designers give form to products, interiors, and visual communications, and satisfy the functional, psychological, and aesthetic needs of users... http://design.osu.edu/dept_what.html Create Constraints In order to overcome this problem it’s really important to define some constraints. If we have too much freedom again it’s hard to make a decision because it tends to fall to our personal opinion and we can't rely that everybody will like the same things we do. The book Making Ideas Happen covers this topic really well saying that in a specific research with designers, they were much more productive when they had more constraints in a project than those who had more freedom. My suggestion to creating these constraints is to fall back to the importance of having a good design briefing before starting any sketch or firing up the computer. Talk with the client, try to understand exactly what you have to do and for whom you will do it. That is key. Before starting anything I asked all questions I had and defined the constraints, that made the whole process a lot easier Try, try and try some more I've already said this in some speeches I gave, but it’s true. The only way to come up with something cool is by trying, testing, and evolving ideas. If you just wonder and never do, you will have nothing to evolve upon. It’s like the fear of the blank page. Once you start adding things to it, it's not that complicated anymore…it’s all about playing with the elements, right? Or like the inertia principle, once we get the object moving it’s hard to stop. When I was in college I had an amazing professor and he used to make us sketch at least 150 variations for a logo project, he used to say that the first ideas we have are always based on something we saw and it’s already known and popular, that’s why we did it. Only after we run out of ideas is when we will start innovating. Delivering I tend to think that the next idea will always be better, which in reality most of the times is and that’s why I had so many projects that were never finished. As I mentioned in the last post we have external factors that might make us unsure and insecure of our ideas. Now, I believe that we have to think of design as an evolving process that means once we have an idea and have gone through the creative process with the right constraints and we know that we did our best we must deliver. Once we deliver we can start thinking on improving upon it. Seth Godin mentions that he is successful because he delivers more while other people keep postponing the delivering in order to finish a master piece which might never happen. He also talks about the last minute questions before delivering what he calls the Lizard Brain calling. Amazing talk about delivering by Seth Godin You don't need to be more creative, all of you are too creative.... what you need is a quiter lizard brain... - Seth Godin" Creating something is always exciting, and having ideas is super easy that is why I am sure that everybody is extremely creative. Now the secret of success is making these ideas come true. The most comforting thing is that we start a project with at least 50% chance to succeed without even doing anything. Now try to imagine if we give it our best, how much that percentage would chance in our favor. Top image courtesy of Shutterstock.