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Changing from editorial design to UX/UI design

“Do or do not. There is no try.”

Last year my life took a major turn, both personally and in terms of work.

In terms of work, as a Graphic Designer, I decided to make a big change in my career and leave my comfort zone, going from working in the field of editorial design to a totally new world, the UX / UI design.

Personally, I went from being a big consumer and fan of series and movies, to being a diaper changing machine !! Yes, that’s right, as Darth Vader was also, now… I’m a father.

From the beginning in both cases I knew that I was entering a new world with new rules, so this would require a lot of effort on my part. The challenge was there, and the decision was made. Now we just needed to start learning and understanding this new world.

Many changes, many risks … I only hope that may the force be with me !!

But making the decision to cross to the other side was not easy. In my case as a designer in a small and quite saturated market, the key factor to make this resolution was the enormous potential to grow the digital world offers, and the exponential increase in users which is constantly strengthening, absorbing the new generations and also our parents and grandparents. This represents to me a much wider number of job opportunities.

On one hand I would improve myself as a designer learning new tools and absorbing new knowledge, and at the same time I expand my work possibilities … That’s a win/win situation for me.

Still I felt something important was missing … I needed my Obi-Wan. Yes, that person who take me through the pathway of the Force in the best possible way. And I was so lucky that I not only found my Obi-Wan, but at Ingenious I found an entire Jedi Order willing to guide my destiny.

One of the first most relevant new concepts that I found in UX / UI design was what is called Design Patterns. As users of the digital world we all had contact with them even though we are not aware of it.

Baby Steps

If you are new to this world as well as me, or you are in the moment where you doubt whether or not you should cross to the other side, you need to know well from the beginning what is the difference between UX and User Interface UI.

The UI or User Interface are the means by which a person controls a software or hardware. The UI design focuses on anticipating what users might have to do and ensuring that the interface has easily accessible and understandable components to make those actions easier.

Defining what UX is could be more complicated to explain, we can find many definitions, but one of the most concise is ISO 9241–210

“Person’s perceptions and responses resulting from the use and/or anticipated use of a product, system or service”

The term was used for the first time by Donald Norman in the mid-90s while he worked for Apple. He invented the title of User Experience Architect to describe his functions, trying to cover all aspects of a person’s experience with a system including industrial design, graphic design, interface, physical interaction and manual.

Summing up the idea, the UX design is the process of increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty by improving usability, ease of use, and the pleasure provided in the interaction between the customer and the product.

The UI design is part of the UX, it’s considered an element of the experience, but the UX is much more than only UI.

Well, having these concepts clear, let’s move on to the so-called Design Patterns, where do they come from? what are they for? How do they work? Are they good or bad?

The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural

With that comment Chancellor Palpatine sowed the seeds of Anakin’s fall to the dark side offering access to the unnatural.

Are Design Patterns an ability to master? Absolutely.

Do they have an unnatural origin? Quite the opposite. There is nothing more natural than recognizing patterns.

We are all programmed to recognize them even though they do not exist. Shapes in the clouds, numbers on the lottery tickets, the stellar constellations, even the strange spots on the walls … All these things show us how people constantly look for patterns.

Looking for patterns is the natural response of our mind to a fact that displeases us: the unknown. Our brain does not like “not knowing”. He seeks an answer and often does so under the ad ignorantiam argument. It prefers a quick solution before a situation of ignorance.

The design patterns have their origin in architecture, Christoper Alexander was the one who introduced them as the re-usable form of a solution to a design problem. In his book The Timeless Way of Building (1979) established the concept of patterns and described more than 250 patterns defining them as follows:

Each pattern describes a problem that occurs over and over again in our environment, and then describes the core of the solution to that problem, in such a way that you can use this solution a million times over, without ever doing it the same way twice

Thanks to the fact that the web has almost 30 years of life; that gives time to discover frequent user experience problems and invent solutions. Some solutions were so successful that web designers started using them frequently. And, through familiarity, users began to acepted them as something standardized. This was the beginning of web design patterns: a common visual language that both designers and users understand.

While applying them avoids having to reinvent the wheel when facing a design problem making the process more agile, as when we use any kind of tool, you must first analyze the problem and its context in order to select the appropriate pattern.

Many of them surely you already know them without realizing it, for example:

  • Link to home (returns us to the home page, usually triggered from the logo on the top header)
  • Tabs (they show us grouped content, allowing access to it without changing our current view)
  • Share (this action is one of the most used due to the rise of social networks)
  • Dialog box (small window that appears over the user’s current activity containing critical information)

Thanks to the cybernetic entity called Internet, nowadays we can quickly access galleries and examples of these patterns, the most famous are:, Yahoo! Design Pattern Library, Ui-patterns, Pattern Tap, Android Patterns

But as if it was taken from the mind of the great George Lucas, we also find a dark side in design which is represented by what they are called Antipatterns and the Dark Patterns.

Antipatterns are just patterns that lead us to a bad solution to the problem that presents itself. Knowing them avoids us repeating those errors when designing. For example: using dialogue boxes for each user action instead of just the critic ones is a bad practice. As well as using excessive amounts of buttons without marked hierarchies, or the use of long registration processes that cause the user to get bored and generate rejection.

On the other hand, Dark Patterns are patterns that work well, but that have the purpose of deceiving the user. They are very common to find during a purchase process or attempts to unsubscribe.

Summing up, design patterns are a good start to get into the path of Ux / UI Force. You can find good ones and bad ones, knowing them accelerate our process when it comes to design and also avoid us falling into errors that can cost time and money.

May the Force be with you fellow Padawan!

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