Its been 7 months since joining Instagram as a product designer after university. There are things that were overlooked in school that I’m starting to realize. This is only a reflection of my own experience, but will hopefully help aspiring students...
1. A design exploration doesn’t have to start with a problem statement.
Instead, think about the job to be done that people would be hiring your feature/product for and build for that.
2. Don’t dwell on “Design Thinking”.
In the context of a design sprint, yes, but not in your every day work. You don’t have time to affinitize ideas on post-it notes or to map out a persons journey on a fancy graph. Instead, dive into sketch/prototyping for tangible exploration.
3. No one has time for wireframes.
Whether it’s recruiters viewing your portfolio, the people you work with daily/weekly, or the people participating in user research. The higher fidelity an idea, the clearer it is to communicate.
3. Familiarize yourself with UI frameworks.
Like material design for Android or UIKit for iOS. It’s important to know the fundamental components engineers have to work with so you can orient your designs towards them or build upon them.
4. The best designers are the best prototypers.
Every delightful interaction you’ve experienced stemmed from a designer’s high fidelity prototype, not from a designer verbally communicating a cool idea to an engineer. I’m not talking about animated illustrations from AE.
5. Learn a high fidelity prototyping tool.
Principle is NOT a high fidelity prototyping tool. I’m talking about tools that give you system level access to the platform you’re working on...
...Tools that just take you from screen A to screen B are fine for telling a story, but not for testing interactions that actually work on device. This process will make you discover many edge cases that are critical to tackle during the design process...
...Tools I suggest for this are Origami, Framer, and even Swift/React if you’re fast/comfortable enough. Unity for AR/VR.
So, how can schools get better at this?
Reserving 10-20 weeks for senior projects are fine, but there needs to be foundational classes that drill down on multiple quick concepts from visual design to prototyping. A feature you think should be in your favorite app, a small MVP.
If you’re interested in this stuff and live in the Bay Area, let’s meet up. If you’re farther away, I’ll always make time for a video or phone call. ✌️
You can follow @joekndy.