Everything you know about Design is wrong

chriscates profile image Chris Cates ・3 min read

My skills in UX Design were actually an accident. I had no intention of developing my skills in UX Design to the extent of where they are now. However, as I invested more time into Mathematical Concepts. Those skills translated very well into Design. The key to becoming great is to be unconventional. This applies to pretty much any profession as it breaks the generic molds. In this article, I'll be discussing key things for how an entry or mid level designer can progress their skills to the next level.

1. Stop Following Guidelines

Probably one of the major reasons why you're road blocked is the fact that you're following guidelines. I'm not saying to ignore them completely, but, treat them as guidelines. Your creativity will be SUPPRESSED if you focus on following the conventions in HCI or Material Design. If the guideline convention helps your UI, use the convention. If it doesn't help, don't use it. The best way to frame Guidelines is to treat them as inspirational tools. Treat the guideline you're following as an inspiration for what your OWN guidelines and conventions should be.

2. Learn Math

I'm assuming that as a UX Designer, you're aware of how limited your options are without rudimentary front end development experience. I would consider it mandatory that you have decent experience with React, Angular or Vue. Elsewise, you're limited to just print design gigs in Adobe Illustrator. However, to add to that, learning algebraic concepts opens a new door for you. There are trivial concepts such as "Rule of Thirds" or "Fibonacci" that can help you make better designs. However, you can use other clever mathematical tricks to make even better designs. Mathematically speaking, there really is no limit to the translation of a math concept to a UI. Be creative, and math can be the gateway to being even more creative.

3. Play Instruments

While Music may seemingly be unrelated to UX Design. Integrating music theory practice into your daily routine will help your designs. I've found that if I invested more time into scales practice on the Piano. The methods and how I approach UX Design have changed drastically and I've begun to really materialize much better concepts. This should be trivial, just spend 30 minutes a day practicing scales and arpeggios and work on some entry level pieces like "Fur Elise" or "Minuet in G Major". Even today, I spend time writing modified versions of "Fur Elise" for my own musings and entertainment.

4. Treat It As Digital Art

If you're serious about your career. Treat every UI as digital art. That's because it is digital art. Think of the traditional methods that are used to paint a watercolor or pastel piece. How the composition is derived, how each stroke must be implemented. These ideas translate to UI's except instead of painting with a brush, you're painting with code.


Hopefully my ideas around UX are helpful. The goal and intent was to hash out points for any aspiring or entry/mid level UX designer to improve and get better at their profession. I had no intention of being where I am right now in terms of UX. However, reflecting on the quality of recent compositions and applications I've created. Plus, the fact that I blatantly dislike both HCI and Material Design. It made sense for me to write this article, since far too often do I see people who follow those guidelines fall extremely short in terms of quality of work.

Link to original article: https://chriscates.ca/blog/design

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Chris Cates


Software, Robotics and AI Research


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