Ask DN: What to learn?

over 5 years ago from , Senior UI/UX Designer at Customer.io

I've been given the opportunity to take a few days to a week to learn something new/focus on a project that would further my professional development. As an interaction designer, I could go so many different ways— visual design, prototyping, etc. but I'm not sure exactly what. A bit overwhelmed by the choice, I can't quite make one. So....help? I'm looking for something that could serve as a decent springboard within a few days, but provide further learning opportunities down the line. I have good front-end development knowledge, but badly need to catch up on recent trends. I was thinking of learning an animation framework, or perhaps digging deep into FramerJS? Or what about something like Yeoman or Node?

Any help or direction into what is most useful these days (for interaction designers/designers in general) would be appreciated. How do you decide what to learn, and balance fun with practicality/work usefulnesS?


  • Mahdi FarraMahdi Farra, over 5 years ago (edited over 5 years ago )

    Many people would suggest you learn coding mobile applications, but I think you should learn developing web applications which you could use on mobile and desktop.

    I've started learning Javascript a few months ago and it's been an awesome trip, and my next step would be learning NodeJS with some sort of database to handle the logic behind my apps.

    If you're not so excited about building your own stuff, you can also try to learn some after effects animation.

    I hope this helps.

    2 points
    • Ivana McConnellIvana McConnell, over 5 years ago

      Thanks! I'm trying to balance the 'learning something cool' with practical usefulness. I.e., whenever I'm in a job, I won't be the one building the mobile application itself, so while some knowledge of that is good, I don't necessarily need to know how to do it myself, if that makes sense? In my job, more in-depth prototyping or animation knowledge might be more helpful?

      0 points
      • Mahdi FarraMahdi Farra, over 5 years ago

        Ah, then it depends on you, FramerJS is nice, but I don't think it's the best way to do prototypes. I believe if you want to write code do it straight in Xcode, you shouldn't be writing it in FramerJS which is a waste of time in my own opinion as it won't be useful for the developers.

        If you don't want to learn Swift/Objective C, then I suggest you try the visual prototyping apps like Principle, Pixate & even MarvelApp/InvisionApp.

        0 points
        • Ivana McConnellIvana McConnell, 5 years ago

          I'm having trouble choosing between prototyping tools! I've had a go at Invision before— it's nice, but I'd want something a little more robust, so I was thinking Pixate or Principle, or maybe even both.

          Can you elaborate a bit on why XCode > FramerJS from a developer's perspective?

          0 points
          • Mahdi FarraMahdi Farra, 5 years ago

            FramerJS lets you write Javascript to control your prototype and make it interactive, which is nice and cool, but, you can't use this code anywhere and it takes time to write it.

            On the other hand if you write Swift code in Xcode, even if it's not the best, still, the developers could use some of it, as you'll be building an actual app not only prototyping.

            To start with Swift & Xcode I'd suggest you check https://designcode.io/ which is a great book to learn from, as it explains everything from a designer point of view.

            1 point
  • Robin RaszkaRobin Raszka, over 5 years ago


    1 point
    • Ivana McConnellIvana McConnell, over 5 years ago

      Can you explain why?

      0 points
      • Robin RaszkaRobin Raszka, 5 years ago

        Well, that would be defeating the purpose.


        0 points
        • Ivana McConnellIvana McConnell, 5 years ago

          Hah :) I understand its general benefits, but I meant from your perspective, as a developer or designer— what about it makes it more useful to you from a collaborative or work perspective?

          0 points
          • Robin RaszkaRobin Raszka, 5 years ago (edited 5 years ago )

            From my perspective Swift is a obvious choice going forward. I like to play wih the real deal, meaning prototype real apps, have full control over implementation of UI I designed and eventually, be able to make my own stuff over weekend a during my private hackathon.

            Next choice would be FramerJS as you can build literally anything with it but it's not a pure native experience hence Swift.

            0 points
  • Duncan RussellDuncan Russell, over 5 years ago

    In my free time I've been reading about the philosophy of science and research methods. I want to bring a more scientific approach to my "big" design thinking to make it less about my own ego and more about the facts.

    I've prioritised this over my other coding hobbies as I decided if I couldn't properly conduct, test and interpret research then whatever I was creating may be fundamentally wrong* anyway.

    * Wrong as in an incorrect solution to a problem, or a misinterpretation of what the problem actually is.

    0 points
  • Nour MalaebNour Malaeb, over 5 years ago

    I'm a big fan of Processing and it's been on my to-learn list for a while. While it's not immediately useful for day-to-day interaction design, I imagine it's a fun way to get into programming and will probably be useful if the future of interaction design and VR intersect (and they most likely will).

    Plus, then you'll be able to make fun animated gifs like these.

    0 points
  • dh .dh ., over 5 years ago (edited over 5 years ago )

    I just started learning swift, can seem a bit tedious at the beginning although there are some really good tutorials at udemy and you can be making very simple apps within the first couple of lessons. I found it also helps to gain a better understanding for iOS design. Things like FrameJS could be useful although there are so many good animation tools now that don't require any code.

    also check out :


    It's still in beta but could be good from designers wanted to learn more about coding.

    0 points
  • Oz ChenOz Chen, over 5 years ago

    Following this. I share the same problem/luxury.

    0 points