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Thanks DN: Am I a real UI designer? (1 year update)

over 3 years ago from , Design by Marcus

I made a post around a year ago asking if I'm a real UI designer and got a great response from the community. There were so many awesome and helpful posts that it took me the best part of day to reply to them all. I look back at it regularly because there's lot's of great advice in there!

Here's the original post :- https://www.designernews.co/stories/42878-ask-dn-am-i-a-real-ui-designer

So all-in-all I've been learning design for the past 18 months and I'd like to think I've made some decent progress. I started out with my first client at $20/hour and I'm now at $35/hour which is pretty great! I plan to raise my rate to $40/hour in January although I'm moving away from hourly work and will be quoting fixed prices whenever possible.

In the beginning I sought out inspiration more than I'd like to admit but I'm finding I need it less these days and I can get closer to the end goal without relying on outside help so much. I still have loads to learn and own a large amount of courses that I want to start working through asap, the actual amount of them is pretty ridiculous.

Here's a look at my progress so far, I hope 2016 will bring as much improvement as 2014-2015.

2014 - http://imgur.com/a/GqTQq (really horrible stuff) 2015 Jan to Jun - http://imgur.com/a/qqJ5J 2015 Jul to Dec -http://imgur.com/a/GcZSa

I've come realise that talent is not really that important for UI design (not sure about other area's of design). Time, hardwork and a love for the craft is more than enough to put you on the path to good things. I started with no talent for this so literally started at zero and I think I've done ok.

Here's a few resources I've found useful in my journey thus far :-

Paul Jarvis' Creative Class - https://creativeclass.io UXPin Ebooks - http://studio.uxpin.com/ebooks Austin Kleons's Steal Like an Artist - http://austinkleon.com/steal/ The Non-Designers Design Book - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0133966151 Tutsplus -http://webdesign.tutsplus.com/courses

Thanks again to the community of Designer News for the encouragement a year ago and all the great posts in between!

Marcus http://www.marcushanda.cohttps://dribbble.com/marcushanda

44 comments

  • Toby ShorinToby Shorin, over 3 years ago

    Hey your work has gotten much cleaner! I think you can go even more sophisticated at this point to avoid looking like the gajillion startup websites out there.

    Regarding your rate: you are undercharging. We creatives typically undervalue ourselves by a lot. It's sometimes hard to estimate, but try to make some realistic hypotheses about the value you are going to be providing to the client through your work. If it's a startup website that helps them land their seed investment, or a redesigned checkout flow that improves conversion by 3%-5%, that's a huge boost for the business.

    Your only limit is your own confidence. Next project you take, I encourage you to double or triple your asking rate. Ask for more. Charge for the value you provide. Most of all, respect yourself!

    16 points
    • Marcus H, over 3 years ago

      Hi Toby, thanks for the feedback and kind words.

      I do realise that I provide more value than purely pushing pixels but it is my confidence (impostor syndrome) that is limiting me. I've stopped trying to charge by the hour and I'm moving towards fixed pricing at the moment.I recently purchased Brennan Dunn's DYFR (thanks Black Friday) so I can learn more about pricing on value.

      My learning isn't limited to design and I've started reading books about the business side of things. I'm a work in progress and I hope I can make major strides in design and freelancing/business over the coming 12 months.

      3 points
      • Toby ShorinToby Shorin, over 3 years ago

        Haven't read that book but it supposedly has some great tips! That said, I firmly believe you don't need a book to learn how to charge more. Just do it.

        Seriously, triple your rate on your next project. You're going to get away with it, and when you do, you'll realize how bullshit imposter syndrome is, and that the number you charge is uncorrelated to your self-worth. Design your life

        4 points
      • Adam RasheedAdam Rasheed, over 3 years ago

        It's an amazing ebook and worth every penny. I I stopped billing hourly this year and effectively tripled my hourly rate. Funny how that works

        You do need your prices though. Raise them till you're uncomfortable and then raise them a bit more.

        1 point
        • Marcus H, over 3 years ago

          Tripled? That's crazy! What did you triple from if you don't mind me asking? Also are you the same Adam Rasheed that has some video's on Youtube?

          Anyway, I'm going to start the book tomorrow, are there any other books you'd recommend?

          1 point
          • Matt DunnMatt Dunn, over 3 years ago

            FreshBooks has a nice little [free ebook]((https://www.freshbooks.com/blog/breakingthetimebarrier/)) about pricing too.

            1 point
            • Marcus H, over 3 years ago

              I've actually read that book, it was a great read and loved the writing style. I helped me move away from hourly to fixed pricing but I don't believe I'm ready to bill on value just yet. I think I need some more solid projects behind me first and more experience before I make the jump.

              0 points
          • Adam RasheedAdam Rasheed, over 3 years ago

            I was charging $25-$30/hour depending on the job, and now my effective rate is $75/$150 per hour depending on the job. Keep in mind these aren't a regular amount of hours every week.

            And you mean this YouTube channel? Yeah that's mine.I'm releasing a Sketch tutorial series I'm excited for :)

            Design is a Job by Mike Monteiro (he was in the F*ck You Pay Me Video) is a must-read. I highly recommend it.

            1 point
            • Marcus H, over 3 years ago

              A similar rate what I'm charging although from looking at your portfolio you design and create and I only do the former. No such thing as regular hours with freelancing (for me anyway), I averaged between 10-20 hours a week this year but would like to get closer to 25.

              I knew I'd seen your name somewhere.

              I have that book but haven't got round to reading it yet and have heard nothing but praise for it. I guess it'll be next on the list after I've finished Double Your Freelancing Rates by Brennan Dunn, pretty apt based on the advice I've got here :)

              1 point
  • Murat MutluMurat Mutlu, over 3 years ago

    Great progress on those imgur links!

    5 points
    • Marcus H, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

      Thanks Mr Marvelapp (Murat)


      Invision isn't the only game in town, have a look at Marvelapp if you haven't already! https://marvelapp.com

      1 point
      • Robin RaszkaRobin Raszka, over 3 years ago

        What is this? Is this paid promo?

        0 points
        • Marcus H, over 3 years ago

          Nope I'm just a fan. I'm linking it in-case others don't know about Marvelapp. Invision is pretty well known but Marvelapp is pretty great too and the free plan is much more generous than what Invision offers.

          0 points
  • Matese F, over 3 years ago

    How did you begin to find clients? I'm at about the same position now that you were at last year and I spend tons of time reading, designing, finding inspiration etc. I can see my designs getting better, but the one thing I am having an awful time figuring out is getting clients. Just interested in how you began to find clients

    4 points
    • Marcus H, over 3 years ago

      This probably isn't the answer you want to hear but I found my first clients on Upwork, I had a few screenshot's of fictitious apps and home pages I'd created and they were enough to land my first few projects. My first 2 clients actually approached me which was really surprising.

      In terms of proposals I try to send quality over quantity. I see tons of people applying for projects and their skill-sets don't match up with the project they are applying for. I think lot's of people on there apply with cut and paste proposals rather than spending time writing something unique and actually applicable to the project they are applying for. Also when your write out a nice proposal keep a copy of it saved in Evernote so you can tweak it and re-use it again. Rather than just talking about yourself and why your the best for the job ask them more questions about the project as it show's you have an actual interest in it.

      That's what has worked for me anyway :)

      5 points
  • Braden HammBraden Hamm, over 3 years ago

    Why only go to +$5 more to $40?

    Even $50 is pretty cheap.

    3 points
    • Marcus H, over 3 years ago

      hmm, that seems like quite a big jump. I'd honestly be too scared to ask for $50/hour because I think it would scare clients off.

      0 points
      • Toby ShorinToby Shorin, over 3 years ago

        fuck that charge $150

        13 points
      • Jordan KoscheiJordan Koschei, over 3 years ago

        Toby's right. Start charging way more. Your work is really good!

        2 points
        • Marcus H, over 3 years ago

          I think to charge more I'd need to to look elsewhere for clients, I can't see myself getting high rates like those on Upwork.

          $50/hour and 15 hours work a week would be amazing. Don't get me started on $100/hour or $150/hour, wow!

          2 points
          • aroon Sharmaaroon Sharma, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

            This is absolutely right Marcus, on Upwork you can't charge $100, $150 nobody will care for you then.

            0 points
            • Marcus H, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

              Yeah I guess that means we both have the same objective this year, work on our marketing and sales and maybe positioning too.

              By the way, I looked at your designs on Dribbble, really beautiful stuff. If I can charge $100/hour you can charge $200/hour. Living in India on money like that you'll live like a king!

              0 points
  • Max LindMax Lind, over 3 years ago

    +1 for sharing your progress and +1 for the resources list!

    • Adding to your list of resources above, what software/tools do you lean on most when designing?
    2 points
    • Marcus H, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

      Oh man, I'm not sure how I forgot to mention Sketch, it was part of the reason I got started. I've never used Photoshop to design interfaces and hope I never will :)

      Designing - Sketch Prototyping/Presenting - Marvel and Invision Assets etc for devs - Zeplin (https://zeplin.io) Icons - Picons and Streamline Photography - DollarPhotoClub

      3 points
  • Adam Hayman, over 3 years ago

    Hey Marcus! Just wanted to echo everyone else here and say that the improvement in your work is awesome. You've definitely grown a lot over the years. I think we all also appreciate your modest demeanor. We designers can be a little full of ourselves sometimes ;) In regards to your pricing, I agree with everyone else! You gotta hit AT LEAST $50/hr in January. Make that your goal. Don't feel bad about charging what you're worth.

    1 point
    • Marcus H, over 3 years ago

      Thanks Adam, it's not quite years yet, another 6 months-ish and it'll be 2 years.

      I think the modesty and humble demeanour is down to the fact that I'm just glad to be doing this. I had no marketable skills 18 months ago and basically started from nothing, now I'm doing something I love and can see a bright future. I pretty much wasted the previous decade and got nowhere so learning design created a future for me, taking this path was the best decision I've ever made.

      I think this is settled now and instead of going to $40/hour in January I'll go straight to $50/hour and maybe look to increase it regularly if I get no push-backs.

      0 points
  • Ege GörgülüEge Görgülü, over 3 years ago

    Hey Marcus,

    Awesome update! Congrats on the progress, it's really obvious and visible how you think about improving your designs and that is really good.

    I'd like to offer just one bit of advice if I may, try to experiment with typography this year. It's not bad in anyway, but there's room for improvement. I'm 100% certain that you can do better.

    Good luck!

    0 points
    • Marcus H, over 3 years ago

      Hi Ege,

      Thanks for the advice, I think your right about the typography and I could be more adventurous and experiment even if I did it on my own designs (rather than client work). I have Ellen Lupton's Thinking With Type so maybe that'll push me towards improvement!

      1 point
  • Ming YINMing YIN, over 3 years ago

    Hi Marcus, your progress is quite obvious to me. The design is neat and beautiful.

    0 points
  • Pedro PintoPedro Pinto, over 3 years ago

    Great progress. How do you find clients nowadays?

    0 points
    • Marcus H, over 3 years ago

      Still mostly through Upwork but not all of the projects actually take place on there. This is something I need to work on this year and diversify where my clients come from, I've seen a few other sites such as pickcrew, folyo and juiiicy that I'll sign up with sooner rather than later.

      0 points
  • Chris Gallello, over 3 years ago

    Hey! This is a wonderful post. It's inspiring to see your progress!

    You mentioned that talent isn't important for UI design - instead, it's time, hardwork, and love for the craft. I love that, and it reminds me of this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ResTHKVxf4

    In a nutshell, the journey starts with taste.

    Keep it up Marcus, and all the best in 2016!

    0 points
    • Marcus H, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

      Yes having good taste definitely is key to starting on the right foot. My eye has definitely improved over time too so taste isn't something that is fixed but actually dynamic.

      That's a great video and I've seen it a few different styles I'm sure if it.

      Thanks for the praise, maybe I'll do another post this time next year if all goes well!

      0 points
    • Matthew O'ConnorMatthew O'Connor, over 3 years ago

      https://vimeo.com/85040589 A better version of the same thing.

      0 points
  • Seraifa LuceSeraifa Luce, over 3 years ago

    Have you ever encountered a project that you felt was beyond your level, especially technically? It happens more to me when I'm doing small front-end projects and the clients want more and more complicated features added on that I sometimes can't make comfortably, but that's usually what prompts me to start pushing my rate down to accommodate, probably to my detriment. (That imposter syndrome, man!) How do you handle that?

    0 points
    • Marcus H, over 3 years ago

      Hi Jenny,

      It might be different for me as a UI designer but I definitely felt that for sure. Very early on I worked for a startup and they required quite a high level of polish on the designs, this was right at the beginning of my journey so I wasn't very good understandably but it definitely pushed me to improve my skills quicker than if I let it happen naturally.

      I can imagine it could be quite different and a lot harder for a developer because of the nature of what you have to do. I've read many times that people get better much quicker when they are forced out of their comfort zone and it makes sense because maybe you wouldn't push yourself in such a way if left to your own volition.

      I guess my only advice would be to give the clients an overestimation of how long you think a task will take and it'll give you a buffer to learn what you need to learn and maybe even finish quicker than expected (under-promise and over-deliver).

      Lastly maybe you can get the client to nail down explicitly (the scope) what they want done before you start. When they ask for extra features you can point out that it's not part of the contract but you could accommodate it once the current contract has been concluded. If the task is too difficult you'll have the option to walk away.

      1 point
  • Cecil Lancaster, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

    Hopefully someone can school me here... what's so bad about the 2014 work? Yes, the others take on a more 'minimalistic' style or aesthetic but outside of that, what is particularly wrong with it?

    0 points
    • Marcus H, over 3 years ago

      Maybe they aren't so bad but I'm quite critical of myself as I'm sure other designers are. The layouts are ok but I think the elements are quite 'heavy' looking and lack finesse.

      0 points
  • Christian Krammer, over 3 years ago

    Thanks for the tip on The Non-Designers Design Book, will buy it immediately.

    Glad that you made so much progress in 2015. Hope that you will be able get even better in 2016 and charge more. Good luck!

    0 points