Bootstrapped startups and the shit I learn in therapy

So you want to be a UI designer?

Stop reinventing the wheel.

Copy the wheel.

Better yet, copy the wheel and tweak one or MAYBE two details.

It's a perfectly good wheel. Your maroon square with spinners dangling off the edge isn't cool and innovative, it's ugly and unnecessary. Worse, it's just going to frustrate users.

I don't say this to be mean! I did it too.

One of the first mockups I ever made, circa 2013.

There's something about design that makes us feel bad for using existing components. As a programmer, it's a running joke that your job is just to copy and paste from stack overflow. As a contractor, you would be crazy to try to create a doorknob from scratch.

But every new designer creating their first app mockups tries to create a custom toggle switch.

Start with a UI kit.

A google search for "UI kits 2020" + [INSERT DESIGN TOOL OF CHOICE] will pull up countless options. Pick one that looks good and doesn't cost you a fortune (many are free).

Now look for 3 interfaces that inspire you, then straight-up mother effin steal the:

  • Typeface from #1
  • Layout from #2
  • Color scheme from #3
I keep a folder in my bookmarks called thievery. Anytime I come across a design I like I add it to either layout, color scheme or typography.

If you don't where to start looking for design inspiration (other than all around you) then start here:

Now build your mockup using the UI kit. Get all of the pieces in place and the layout right.

Then tweak the color scheme to fit design #3.

Adjust the typeface to match #1 (don't spend a bunch of money on a fancy font right now, just pull the closest one from Google fonts please).

Tweak the corner radius on the buttons and the padding until you get everything just right.

Design is creative. It is artistic, but it is not art.

Design has a purpose.

In UI design, your purpose is to help the user accomplish their goals. The easier your UI is to understand, the better it can fulfill its purpose.

When you reinvent the wheel, you not only run the risk of creating an uglier interface. You also force the user to learn a new design pattern. This adds unnecessary processing time that could be spent accomplishing something dope. People who accomplish dope things tend to pay you money.

You can then take that money and use it to help more people. Or buy pizza.

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