Just Some Practical Design Stuff

I’ve always been a huge fan of design writing that gets down to application and shows other people something they might find useful. These are few and far between in the sea of fluffy think pieces and debates about hamburger menus.

I just wanted to take a moment to share three examples of useful design writing that I think can of benefit to any designer and especially to those who are just starting to cut their teeth in product and UX design.

  1. A Shorthand for Designing UI Flows

I discovered this great piece by Basecamp’s Ryan Singer back in 2010 when I first started out in UX. He demonstrates and details a simple method for thinking through and communicating user flows with a simple focus on what is presented to the user and what actions they can take at that step.

At the time I had been using my own warped version of UML and trying to fit numerous user journeys into one stupidly complex flow which took me forever to make. After discovering Ryan’s method I immediately became more productive in that particular phase of product design and I continue to use this method to this day.

2. The Nine States of Design

Any designer worth their salt needs to understand the value of moving beyond the “ideal” state often seen in pretty mocks. They need to make sure they are accounting for the wide variety of states that a product can end up in during use — including worst case scenarios. This is simply a hallmark of a credible designer and shows they have thought things through. At the very least, we want to look good when we are metaphorically caught with our pants down when our product fails in some way.

While I’ve always been a stickler for making sure my work is complete and as such will hold up in real usage, this article is a great reminder and can act as a reasonably comprehensive checklist of things to work through before a feature is ready to be built.

3. Pixel Perfect Precision Handbook 3

This is a great resource for designers who lack visual design skills and want to start adding them to their skill set. PPP™ is absolutely packed with easy to digest, practical visual design tips which I’ve found really helpful.

I hope you too will find these resources useful — let me know in the comments. I’m also interested in learning about practical resources that other people have found invaluable.



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