How designing microapps for a year has helped me to be a better designer.
I’ve been working as a UX Designer at Tiled for a little over a year, and in that time I’ve built a whole bunch of microapps, ranging in purpose from recruiting presentations to event agendas. One of my favorite things about Tiled is that it allows me, as a designer, to create any experience I can imagine. Throughout the last year of designing such diverse experiences, I’ve seen significant growth in my UX ability. Here are a few things that I’ve taken away:
1. Stop worrying about making everything perfect.
As a less-experienced designer, I have a hard time showing off my work unless I think it’s “absolutely perfect.” The logical downside of this mindset is that I can never call something finished because I can never get to a point where I feel like it’s perfect. The designer’s workflow within Tiled has dramatically helped me overcome this. Having the ability to iterate, publish, iterate, and then re-publish has changed my mindset around perfection, and now I’m much more efficient at just getting something out there, and coming back to polish it later.
2. Just start designing.
Another major bottleneck I’ve experienced as a junior designer has been the feeling of overwhelming dread at starting a new project from scratch. Where do I start? What’s the page structure going to be? Should I create a style-guide? For me, the beginning of any project is the most challenging part. Over the past year, being given the opportunity to design dozens of unique experiences has taught me that the only way I’m ever going to create a finished product is just to start designing. No more waiting for sudden bursts of creativity.
3. Be more systematic.
In my everyday life, I’m a pretty organized person. My apartment is always clean, and I keep my desk tidy. But my Sketch files, after 2 hours of iterating, look like a war zone. Unnamed folders, hidden layers that I’ll never use, and inconsistent grouping patterns. On top of all that, I’m awful at implementing symbols into my files, making every little change take much longer than necessary. Building microapps in Tiled requires a lot of organization, to make sure everything looks consistent from page to page. I’ve still got ways to go, but working within Tiled has helped me to organize my files and take advantage of more of the tools at my disposal.
4. Don’t disorient your users.
This one seems like a no-brainer, but going from a junior designer to a mid-level designer, this was something that took some getting used to. In traditional powerpoint presentations, it’s often impossible to understand where you are within the overall structure. Tiled offers the ability to provide context clues, like global navigations or breadcrumbs, so that a user always has a grip on where he or she is in a presentation. Being able to utilize these tools has made me more aware of how oriented my users will be within any given experience.
5. Give obvious clues to guide the journey.
When I first started designing microapps, I would often get the feedback, “I don’t know where I’m supposed to go from here.” This seems like another design no-brainer, but as I’ve created microapps over the past year, I’ve learned the importance of creating a clear path for the user to follow. There should always be a clear “next step” that eventually leads to the final call-to-action. Tiled is the perfect tool for this, as it offers the ability to create links to any other page, allowing me as a designer to create dozens of different paths through a presentation.
These are just 5 of the many things I’ve learned as a designer at Tiled. Building microapps is a totally new way to think about designing experiences, and I’m sure that as I build more, I’ll grow even further as a UX designer.
–Tanner Thelin, Designer at Tiled