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Do daily UI challenges help you become a better designer?

4 years ago from , Product Designer at SoundCloud

Well, to me the answer is yes and no. Despite admiring the commitment and the time some people invest on those challenges, I would like the challenge the idea and know more about other' opinions. So, here's my take...

No:

  • Design is not art, it's a profession. In reality, it needs to address pain points of certain target users as well as backing up the business goals. With random UI challenges, the designer doesn't have real users and real world problems. Thus, the success of the design cannot be validated.

  • Random challenges are like talking to yourself aloud to improve yourself in a foreign language. However, you're limited to your knowledge and skill domains.

  • User flows define the way people interact and do stuff with your apps. Single screen challenges usually ignore the fact that there's a previous and/or next step performed by the user. Therefore, most of the challenges cannot address the overall user experience.

Yes:

  • Especially for beginners, you have a bold commitment to constantly push designs, maybe get faster and make a research.

  • If challenges are published, you get a constant feedback and create a social presence online. However, I'd still argue the quality of the feedback (e.g "awesome" aka Dribbble).

  • You get to design user interfaces that you had no opportunity to deal with before. It may definitely widen your ability to handle similar real world cases in the future.

28 comments

  • Ollie BarkerOllie Barker, 4 years ago

    I think it's only real use is to show of your aesthetic skills when you might otherwise not be able to (clients, contracts etc). You're right though that they are very limiting since they don't show any reasoning or the overall user experience considerations.

    14 points
  • Sergey Jech, 4 years ago (edited 4 years ago )

    Yes, they do!

    I'm on my 4th day of the challenge.

    Here are my personal pros & cons so far:

    PROs:

    Time constraint

    You only get 1 day to complete a task, which totals in several hours, if you work full-time. I believe I will be able to tackle real life cases more effectively in future + better time-management skill.

    Practice

    I design in Sketch and want to master this tool. Variety of tasks allows me to try different techniques.

    Creativity & abstract problems

    For me, the challenge is a balance between creativity & problem-solving. Since I'm not solving any real problems, I might just train my creativity skill. For example, today I received a task to design a Calculator and I thought why not make it a speech-based. I set my own constraints which allows me to be a client for myself (very challenging!)

    Review of own work

    I review my work the next day. Fresh mind gives me the ability to see what could have been improved/done better. I think that's a big plus to experience.

    Feedback

    Sometimes you might be lucky to receive constructive feedback (if it's not Dribbble)((just kidding)). Good for beginners who have problems with visual design basics.

    CONs:

    Pretty much agree with everything what Volkan pointed out.

    I would put it this way.

    Pixel pushing

    I will be happy if some of my designs get implemented in future, for now they are just pictures.

    P.S. you can follow my struggles at:

    https://twitter.com/sergeyjech or https://instagram.com/sergeyjech

    7 points
    • Arix KingArix King, 4 years ago

      Oh, hey! I started following you on Instagram earlier today!

      1 point
      • Sergey Jech, 4 years ago

        Oh, it's you heh! Hey there! Wish you good luck with the challenge, may the UI force be with you!

        1 point
  • Will ThomasWill Thomas, 4 years ago

    I've started the recent DailyUI project. It's the first time I've done something like this.

    My daily work is for homeowners and tradesmen, quite a specific audience. Almost all our design decision have some data behind it — whether it be qualitative or quantitative — so I understand that a UI challenge might some somewhat devoid of constraints.

    I know the challenge is for my own benefit so I try and think of scenarios and edge cases that differ from my day to day when I approach task. I try and think of additional potential constraints and explore concepts that I found difficult before.

    Most importantly I've taken to finding other people's submissions and providing feedback, usually something good and something not so good. I invite others to do the same. I plan on posting these on my blog when I get a chance along with an analysis of my own submissions (I'll link it when it's ready).

    3 points
    • Clark DinnisonClark Dinnison, 4 years ago

      I think this is the real reason I created Daily UI. I wanted a creative outlet outside of the daily restraints/specs that I get with client work. I don't think practice in any sense can ever count negatively towards becoming a better designer.

      2 points
  • Dan MazigDan Mazig, 4 years ago

    I admire the devotion behind these designers, they sure love what they do! Though, I honestly don't get: how do you design anything that doesn't serve any goals or has no research behind it?!

    Design can be shallow but the fun with it, is creating overall experience solutions!

    2 points
  • Fri RasyidiFri Rasyidi, 4 years ago

    Well, if you want to be a UI Designer, this exercise truly helps a lot. You can improve the quality of your interface design: pushing pixels, typography, focal points, etc...

    But if you want to be a UX Designer, Daily UI will not help you much—I do agree that UX covers UI as well but UX's greater chunk is on solving user's problems. Instead of doing Daily UI, I think it's best to practice by doing some Design Sprints. Talk to real users, solve real problems, then measure it. Take example this project by Francine Lee on Dropbox Photo. She didn't get paid by Dropbox, but I'm sure she learned a lot.

    2 points
  • jj moijj moi, 4 years ago (edited 4 years ago )

    You can add all the things to the challenge to make it better: business requirements, art direction, target users, flows, etc. It could be a lot of work to do this well daily, but scoping is also a good skill to learn. It's also make a better designer by learning new knowledge domains. So... it depends, on how you do the challenge. At the very least, even the simplest UI and just for the sake of styling, if you keep making it for a 100 days, you'll definitely learn a few things.

    2 points
  • cliff nowickicliff nowicki, 4 years ago

    I think a lot of times the word "Designer" is taken multiple ways. A lot of people assume "Visual Designer" while others take it as it's technical value of more than just the look of it, but the way it works. As for the 100 day challenge, I believe the spirit behind it lays in the visual side of things. While everybody works to make things as useful and meaningful as possible, I think that having fun flexing your visual muscles its what this is all about. I'm working on my UI stuff with a sense of UX, but this time I'm not limiting myself to dev restraints or anything. Maybe a UX challenge would work, but in the end, I think this is just a challenge for people to try out visual things they might not have tried before. Sometimes you just need to throw down whats on your mind and see how it works.

    2 points
  • Arix KingArix King, 4 years ago

    I think I fall more on the side of it being a progressive thing if you have the right approach and mindset about it.

    For me personally, I push myself to really address principles of UX and UI when I do my DailyUI challenges.

    For example, the work I did on day one this week:

    A sign-up form sounds simple (and a lot of people treat it that way; e.g. 4 lines with placeholder text) but I made an effort to consider how it would animate, how the user connects colors, what options the user needs, how small the information sets should be broken down.

    I'm not going to write this all out now, but—come an interview—I can support why I did what I did and, even if it's completely wrong in practice, it shows that I'm thinking in the right mindset to make the experience best for the user.

    Also—as some others have mentioned, it exercised other skills as well, such as time management (I'm a student, adding one element today has been quite a juggle) and type setting.

    And, yeah... I won't deny that I'm doing it to get myself out there more. Whether you like it or not, having an online presence is important to landing any job and giving myself something to put out there consistently will help with that dramatically. Even if I don't have a Dribbble, I've seen tons engagement on Twitter alone; even made some network connections and critiquing peers, which is one of my most favorite things about this whole thing!

    Anyway, I'll stop ranting now. I can see how it doesn't help, but I don't think that's a rule, only the outcome if you treat these challenges apathetically and just do the bare minimum.

    1 point
  • Tori PughTori Pugh, 4 years ago

    I think it lets you design in a way that maybe you wouldn't have before or depending on where you work you can't. So, I like to think of it as practice on things that I might not have had the time or energy to think about but are thrown at me to complete. So, it helps mr think about different ways to tackle the topic and different ways for it to be completed. I think that's growth and a pathway to becoming better.

    1 point
  • Thomas Michael SemmlerThomas Michael Semmler, 4 years ago

    While I think that practice is always good, I cannot ignore the fact that so many people use it for promotion only. Being a designer nowadays means that you have to be able to create and maintain a following, but shouldn't the design-challenge be about design first, and promotion second?

    Especially with dribbble; Only few people use it to get feedback, most people use it to promote themselves. I saw a guy once, post a picture of himself on dribbble, announcing that he had gotten a new job at a company. No design, just a selfie.

    Those Daily {{term}} Challenges do kind of represent that culture for me. No hate, just my personal view.

    1 point
    • Riho KrollRiho Kroll, 4 years ago

      I guess the promotion point makes more sense if you're a freelancer, but personally, I haven't been held back by not having a huge online presence. The portfolio you send out, if it's good, speaks more than anything on your Dribbble account. If you're applying at a company that's serious about design that is (which are the ones you probably want to apply to anyway).

      1 point
  • Abhijeet WankhadeAbhijeet Wankhade, 4 years ago

    It's like having an ice-cream. It's not really good for your health, but you want to have it badly anyways.

    FYI, I've also started doing those challenges.

    1 point
  • Hillel Cohen, 4 years ago

    You said it all!

    1 point
  • Carl HauserCarl Hauser, 4 years ago

    I think it helps you to get better in thinking about design elements (buttons,sliders and so on), how they can fit perfect together and what you can do better next time.

    It helps you to get faster results when you design a UI because after that challenge you've made so many different things that you surely learn from it.

    "JUST DO IT" - shia labeouf

    https://dribbble.com/carlhauser

    0 points
  • Andrew LeeAndrew Lee, 4 years ago

    I'm in it for the fame. Give me all the likes.

    https://dribbble.com/shots/2294254-Daily-UI-002

    0 points
  • Florin Diaconu, 4 years ago

    Everything you work on it's good and important for improving your skills. Is it better not to do work than do work ? I don't think so ... I have to disagree with you when you say "design is not art ...". You should read more or do more research about the history of design. But I agree, for some it is just a profession :)

    0 points
    • Christian SchuhmannChristian Schuhmann, 4 years ago

      I share Volkan's opinion about "Design is not art". While design has its origins in art there is a huge and fundamental difference: Art exists to ask questions, while design exists to solve questions—someone designs something to solve a problem. But again, that's just my opinion :)

      2 points
  • Reder Caroline, 4 years ago

    I think it depends on what your process is and how you work. Everyone is different. I have see these 100 daily design challenges work and some epically fail. I think that is in large part due to the fact that some people are able to just put their heads down and go at it while others need time to build and mull over concepts.

    0 points
  • Michael DegtyarevMichael Degtyarev, 4 years ago

    I see it as a good way to sharpen visual design skills, not necessarily UX skills. With later you have to invest much more time in figuring out the problem, and the best way to solve it on the surface (in the UI). This is not something I can afford doing everyday in my spare time. Especially because most of my thinking UX thinking energy is drained during regular working hours.

    0 points
  • Kristaps Elsins, 4 years ago

    Soooo....I am on day #004 today. The thing i want to achieve with this is to break out of my daily design tasks, which include designing heavy systems for corp with a lot of useful but not 'fun' stuff.

    So the pros: Im having fun, I grow my follower audience and upgrading my skills.

    What i would like more from http://dailyui.co/ is more specific tasks. Instead of "landing page" i would like to receive something like this: "Landing page which showcases put product here"

    You can follow me here: https://dribbble.com/KristapsElsins

    YO.

    0 points
  • Doug OrchardDoug Orchard, 4 years ago

    Q: Is there a site filled with UI tasks to complete?

    The hardest thing is picking and choosing what to do next. Too much choice is a problem.

    0 points
  • Nick Bluth, over 2 years ago

    I really like Jared Spool's thoughts on the need for practice in UX https://articles.uie.com/ux_practicing/

    I've started those Daily UI challenges myself, but sometimes I wonder how effective they are. I'm starting a new UX centered one at http://weeklyux.co. We'll see how it goes.

    0 points
  • Anurag Sharma, over 2 years ago

    It sounds interesting and fun to do. This might be a great platform for me to enhance my designs and making it more interactive for users. To go through the well-established Experts fascinating designs and getting inspirations to work even better.

    Keeping this in mind, I joined the Daily UI Challenge and here I'm on my Day1. I've worked for the Sign Up Page.

    Based on my User-Experience, I can say that the Sign Up Forms should always be kept simple so that any person who lands on the page for the first time may easily understand what is the next step he/she has to perform.

    I've put my best efforts in making the Sign Up Page simple yet impressive. Please have a look at my first project for Daily UI Challenge and share out your reviews in the comments at my profile.

    http://bit.ly/2qRfEkk

    I'd be grateful to receive your feedbacks!

    Thanks :) Have a good day!

    0 points