Student Experience | Visual Design, Weeks 3-5 | Nick Hillier

By Nick Hillier October 19, 2015

Apple keyboard and mouseWeek 3

After the first couple of weeks where we focused heavily on mastering the basics of Photoshop and all of the little nuances around the tool, we moved on to learning about all things typeface and font-related. From the perspective of someone with no background in the creative industry, there was so much to learn and so many things about typefaces that I never even thought of – who knew that they could be so complex!

From kerning to leading, spacing and more, this week’s class was comprehensive in all aspects of typefaces and by the end I was feeling a bit overwhelmed, but Theresa and Martin made sure to answer any and all of the myriad questions that popped up in the lesson. One of my favourite things about learning with them particularly, is they’re always keen to share little tips and tricks around manipulating fonts within our projects, and are always happy to weigh in with their opinions in a constructive way.

By the end of the class, it felt like we came so far since the beginning – we were already actively looking at different potential fonts for use on our final projects, and being encouraged to explore type manipulation in order to establish a logotype for our projects. There’s still a long way to go on all things typography, but needless to say, I can’t wait to learn more!

Week 4

It’s amazing to think how far websites have come since the 90s, and to see how big of an impact that design trends have had on the overall visual identity of sites as a whole. In this class, we went into detail on reviewing the different types of UIs, looking at Skeumorphic vs Flat UIs, the advantages and disadvantages of both, and how elements of each help to guide the user through a particular digital experience.

I have to confess – when you look at the design of even a basic website, it’s really easy to forget that a substantial amount of planning, thinking, and effort goes into the site before even the first pixels are pushed. With this class, we learned how crucial it is to design our digital experiences around column systems, in order to ensure that they can be responsive to the types of people and devices that will access them. By learning how to use and set up grid systems on Photoshop, we’re given a common foundation on which to architect our future digital masterpieces.

Taking this one step further, it was astounding to see how many current websites in all different industries – from news to e-commerce – made use of these grids in actual practice, to ensure beautiful and functional experiences. As we progress on our projects, it’s great to know that we’re building these on the most current design architecture principles that are industry-standard – it’s starting to really feel like the real deal!

Week 5

With the focus on our week 5 class around UI/UX design and design principles, having previous experience in the UX course definitely made this class more of a refresher. With that said, I think a few key points really resonated with me in this class:

The lines between UX designers and UI designers are often blurred – there’s definitely an interesting overlap between skillsets for both roles. I think that with UX and UI designers having a mutual understanding of the underlying principles of each field and capabilities, this can help to create better digital experiences

Affordance and accessibility options are more important than ever – with the ever-expanding net of digital users across the various platforms available, knowing who your target users are and how they are known to interact with technology can help you to design more refined and seamless experiences. At this stage of design development, considering functionalities and UI/UX elements with accessibility needs in mind makes implementation

Wireframing many ideas early on is crucial – whether the wireframes are low or high fidelity, and whatever program you use, producing quick wireframes on your digital experiences allows you iterate quickly to work out many of the small usability issues, before any major time is invested in the design stage.

The visual design class continues to be a great introduction to designing digital experiences. I strongly believe that incorporating key UX design principles and enabling UI designers to think with UX in mind allows the final digital product to be much more refined, usable and functional for our intended users. Can’t wait to move forward with developing our site wireframes for week 6!

– Nick

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