Show DN: I'm new to design. Here's one of my first small works. How can I improve?

over 6 years ago from , Designer

Hey everyone,

I've been a lurker here and I'm a developer trying to make a switch into design, looking how to improve.

I'm fairly new to designing things by hand, from scratch, (proof: I'm still using Pixelmator instead of PS/Sketch), but I posted a small project on Behance, and I thought it'd be cool to get feedback on the design (though I know the work is relatively simple), so I know if I'm doing things at least decently!

For anyone who's interested (Behance link): http://bit.ly/1e38ZZz

Thank you, stay awesome!


  • Jake Lazaroff, over 6 years ago

    Don't think that using Pixelmator makes you a noob! It's a professional-grade tool on par with Photoshop and Sketch. And regardless, we all choose the tools that make us the most productive :) fly your Pixelmator flag high and proud!

    4 points
    • Jeff Martin, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

      Yeah! I actually love Pixelmator! So much simpler (and cheaper) than PS. Probably my favourite app on OS X!

      waving the Pixelmator flag up high

      2 points
  • Tierney CyrenTierney Cyren, over 6 years ago

    Personally, I just don't feel there's enough in the design. It's literally three elements, two of which are duplicates and one of which is a background. It's a good start, but there's not much to it.

    Not trying to be mean or rude, if I came off that way I didn't mean it. Just trying to express my feelings about it.

    3 points
    • Christian BundyChristian Bundy, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

      Let's remember that design isn't measured by how much there is to it, but how well it serves its intended purpose. Here are my critiques:

      • I think that the date at the top is being given a bit too much priority, and might do better on one line rather than two.

      • I'd prefer "What's happening right now?" to be an icon on the left, like your camera icon. I think that the text is inconsistent with the minimalistic feel of your UI.

      • Give your timeline some texture! I don't mean that you should use a pattern, but give me something more to hold on to than just the time and a horizontal rule. While this probably works well for one-liner text, that photo really throws off your vertical rhythm. I might throw their location, the weather, how bright the sun was (make it up), the lunar calendar, just something more interesting than "type something and I'll save it with the time". I know it isn't an actual app, but give your imaginary users something interesting to play with! :)

      3 points
      • Jeff Martin, over 6 years ago

        Wow, thanks!

        That third point really struck me, especially the point about the photo throwing things off. That was one I actually struggled with while making this: how to make things consistent with or without a photo (and what about vertical photos, circular... blah).

        The point about giving the user something to "hold on" is also very helpful. I actually didn't even consider texture. And it's most likely because of my tunnel-vision on "flat" and "minimalism", that I forgot that even "flat" design needs to have something graspable for the user. Thanks for the reminder :)

        0 points
    • Jeff Martin, over 6 years ago

      Thanks for the feedback!

      Yeah, I agree it's really simple and even bare, but much of the decisions on each screen actually took me a while! Things like which colours to use, which way to swipe, the size of each cell...

      I'm hoping with time those things just become intuitive and I make faster and smarter decisions on those, which will hopefully allow me to go for much bigger-scale concepts.

      All in all, I appreciate the feedback. Something I'll definitely try to get better at in my future works.

      0 points
      • Tierney CyrenTierney Cyren, over 6 years ago

        Oh man, I'm a big idiot! I didn't scroll down, so all I saw was the two Rs. So sorry--give me a minute to look at it further.

        2 points
      • Tierney CyrenTierney Cyren, over 6 years ago

        Okay, so I've got some more comments. First, I agree with Christan that the date is being given way too much emphasis. I would put the two Rs sideways in the middle, as that's generally what that important space is used for.

        I would get rid of the camera icon in favor of a pencil icon, as your application isn't focused on photos. If that area at the bottom is supposed to be a text area, you need to make that more clear. Right now, it's kind of a waste of space. You could easily put a pencil icon in the top. Or you could have a hamburger icon on one side of the header that initiates a slide-in menu that has options for new posts, old posts (archive), manage photos, twitter responses, and so on, and a pencil icon in the other side for new posts.

        The concept seems a bit off--the examples given just look like tweets, not blog posts. I would make it more focused on blog posts (maybe add leading sentences and a "read more" button to each post).

        I don't really understand the Dropbox and Gear icon. Could you explain?

        1 point
        • Jeff Martin, over 6 years ago

          Haha thanks for the feedback! I've also made the "RR" icon a bit smaller - it was probably too big in the first place!

          Yeah, great advice from you and Christian, and I'd probably have to find a better way than a text field at the bottom for the user to enter things, if I remove the "What's happening right now" text.

          Nice catch on the length of each entry looking more like Twitter - actually, I hadn't mentioned it on the Behance project (probably because I'm hesitant towards it), but while designing, I put a "140 character limit" on each entry. Only so it's tweet-able from the app (which is a bad reason to even put that limit there) and to emphasize "logging events" rather than "talking about events" (this might be a more valid reason than the first).

          The Dropbox icon was meant to enable/disable sync with Dropbox just by tapping. I actually committed an iOS-mistake here. Typically iOS 7 icons toggle between "outline" and "filled" depending on the state of the button, and so perhaps I should have respected that convention here. Mostly, I was playing around with the concept of having "Options/Settings" at the bottom of the view, after a swipe up - rather than the standard sidebar/persistent bottom bar, or an always-visible gear icon at the top.

          0 points
  • Wes OudshoornWes Oudshoorn, over 6 years ago

    Hi Jeff, great place to ask for some feedback. I don't want to critique your designs, but I want to tell you something else. In my experience, design is diamond shaped.

    In every project, you start small, with a simple idea. You expand on that idea, make it wider and wider till you reach the widest point. You now have variation. But design is also about focus. So from that point, you must return back to the endpoint of the diamond shape. You filter, select and make sure your end-product is laser focussed again.

    It sometimes feels that the start and end are the same. They are both simple points. Other times your end point is just as simple but completely different. You must embrace this process every time you go through it. Over time you will get intuition for this.

    This "diamond shaped" process goes for your design career as well. You now have little tools and little ideas. You will start expending your toolbox and get more and more ideas. Your designs will probably fill up with details, extras, etc. And then, slowly, you will find focus again. You might end up with designs that look a lot like this first one. But they will be better. Cleaner. More focussed.

    Embrace the grind. Look for expanded viewpoints and don't forget to narrow them down again. I am sure you will do great :)

    2 points
    • Jeff Martin, over 6 years ago

      This is some really great advice, and it's something I'll try to remember as I continue to take on more projects on the side and in my career. As I keep looking for things to be inspired by, and as I start new things, I'll definitely keep this in mind when I start to go too far, or focus too much.

      Thanks x 10000000000000!

      0 points
  • Nathan NNathan N, over 6 years ago

    It's a nice design, the only thing I'd critique on execution is the aliasing on the timestamp and the blue header (the accent color is orange why is it blue?). Content wise there is no real context for what's happening. It looks like a bunch of status updates but if I had to venture a guess I'd say it was a journal app of some sorts.

    1 point
  • Mohammad Hosseinzadegan, over 6 years ago

    It would be better if you create a GIF for showing the animations & gestures. Also I think the Settings & Dropbox icons are not in a good place. Maybe you have a reason for putting them there, but I don't see that... BTW Good try! Welcome to the game :)

    1 point
  • Jeff Martin, over 6 years ago

    The day's coming to an end where I am, and I just wanted to give everyone a big thanks! I learned a lot from everyone's comments, and I hope to use everything I learned in my future work.

    This is why DN is such an awesome community! :)

    1 point
  • Sherizan SheikhSherizan Sheikh, over 6 years ago

    1) Try to upload your flow process or wireframes of the core screens without much detail so I can understand how you wish to re-invent personal blogging on-the-go. The current mocks doesn't really show that :(

    2) To be honest, if you remove the iPhone template, you don't really have much aesthetics there.

    3) Btw, did you jump straight to pixel perfect mocks?

    1 point
    • Jeff Martin, over 6 years ago

      Thanks for the input! You and Andrew (comment above) make a great point. I joined Behance for the reason that it's more focused on "case studies" than single shots of a design, and it only makes more sense to use that for more detailed uploads. Will definitely upload more detailed works soon.

      0 points
  • Andrew LiebchenAndrew Liebchen, over 6 years ago

    If you're new (even if you're old, I guess), you should spend more time describing (or better yet showing) your process. How did you make your decisions? How did you iterate on your idea to find the best solution? How did you hone in on or define the most critical challenges of this project? Etc.

    1 point
  • Kee Yen YeoKee Yen Yeo, over 6 years ago

    Well, the way I improve my design skills is replicating other people's design (for practise/study purpose) and not share it. I will choose my favourite dribbble shot and replicate it (challenge myself)

    Most importantly work hard, be nice and listen to critiques :)

    1 point
  • Josh ClementJosh Clement, over 6 years ago

    Most 'designers' start off experimenting with little things; and hone their skills with posters and cd covers etc. to jump into a mobile app (an original idea kind of) is like doing a 4 course meal the first time you cook. go back to sketching, and throwing shit around in illustrator is my advice before you start tilting iphones to sexy angles.

    1 point
  • Timothy MillerTimothy Miller, over 6 years ago

    Get your hands on some graphic design books, and learn what you’re doing. Don’t just mimic.

    1 point
    • Ashraf AliAshraf Ali, over 6 years ago

      I would recommend to do BOTH. Copying is important and so is theory. You need both to forge your own solid work.

      5 points