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90 Days of UI : What Secrets Will You Discover?

The magic of consistency.

TL;DR - I did a 90-day UI design challenge without losing my streak. This simple practice reveals 5 great mindsets for future growth on top of improved UI skills.


Back story

I bet you are already familiar with daily design exercises. It is very common and often overlooked. I have not even done a 10-day streak before doing this challenge. I joined Michal Malewicz’s Squareplanet Daily UI Challenges. (Check out his video on that here.)

There is one catch. You cannot lose streaks during the 90 day challenge if you want to earn badges.

I took the commitment and squeezed time to make these challenges every day without fail. And I finally finished all in this (2023) September.

Note: I joined the challenges during beta and was not open to the public yet at that time. So I only shared with friends in the community. It is live now. You can check all my 90 designs here.

Recap of the 90 days

image1

Every day, I check the prompt and think about what extra challenges I can do. Draw it. Share it with others in the community and give feedback to each other. In short,

  • I tried different styles ‚ÄĒ Neubrutalism, Skeuomorphism, Minimalism, Dark UI‚Ķ

  • I played around with crazy ideas.

  • I played around with animations.

  • I tried new screen sizes.

After completing this, the improvement in just 3 months is comparable to what I would have learned in two years. I wish I had done this sooner.

image2

I am able to design in much more detail, use a wider array of colors, tame the font sizes better, and explore more unique and playful styles. And I am able to get out of my comfort design.

More importantly…

There’s another big thing I realized.

secret

Yup! This is the secret itself! I have seen this so many times and cringed on this one. And missed the point for several years!

  • I have chased after so many great designers hoping for the secret sauce they put in their great designs.

  • I joined several courses and spent time hoping to find the best method.

  • I have constantly watched, read, and followed the topic of UX design.

  • I thought that one day I would find this ‚ÄúHoly Grail‚ÄĚ method to great product design.

Actually, we tend to focus too much on someone to teach us the secret method rather than learning it ourselves. Even if there is such a thing as called secret method, it won’t actually be that useful in our hands without the original person’s insights.

Note: It is really important to learn yourself. But this doesn‚Äôt mean we should avoid having mentors ‚ÄĒ the biggest regret I have.

From this ‚Äėno-secret‚Äô¬†secret, these mindsets unlock.

Break the limits

progression

When I joined the challenge, I underestimated the consequences. It is not just 1‚Äď2 extra hours¬†of¬†design. It demands so much thinking that it really wears me out. I am usually designing this after my job. After that, I became way too exhausted.

This happened nearly for 20‚Äď25 days. I was not sure how I would keep this up. Luckily I am doing this together with my friends in the community. And that kept me going.

After passing 60 days, it suddenly became very easy and fun to do this. I still struggle to get time to design this physically. But I am no longer fighting mentally. I am no longer afraid to do this again. It’s like I have unlocked another level of endurance.

Confidence

unconven

No doubt, I believe a lot more in my UI and graphic capabilities after this challenge. Since the beginning of my career, I have jumped into doing research and flows for standard native mobile designs. It didn’t feel like I was good at making pretty and catchy UIs (for lack of a better word). This nagged me for some time. I tried to learn and practice. But only after finishing this one, I have gained enough confidence that I can do at least average to decent-looking ones, if not the best.

Persistence

persist

What if I am sick and not able to do it? What if I am traveling? What if I am too tired? These questions pop up whenever I do challenges that need to keep the streak.

Our mind is too good at tricking us with smart excuses. We avoid inconveniences even if it is very minor. Because of that, it is so easy to excuse a day. Then the next and the next until the momentum dies off and puts the challenge to an end.

In this challenge, my friends and I had finished the designs on bad days, many times. Don’t have enough time and uploaded at the literal last minute. Traveling and finding ways to complete the design. Too tired, yet finished something.

What is the difference if I miss 3 out of 30 days vs a solid 30 days streak? Immense! There is no dip in momentum if you do this straight. So the quality keeps up and continues building. And you want to test your limits and breakthrough to higher high. Once I know I can excuse a day every now and then, I will definitely take a day off if I hit a wall.

In fact, I can say this. 27 out of 30 days will give you like 40% improvements. But 30/30 will give as much as 90%. (just random figures to make my point.)

Understanding yourself

screens

Since the challenges are very long, I’ve got plenty of time to think about the way I design. Normally we have built up personal preferences and styles over time. This is problematic for me as I am not getting out of my own perspective bubble.

During this challenge, we are able to see how different designers approach the same prompt. And I was able to see how designs can feel totally different from tiny differences. This also reveals precise areas I am weak at and where to emphasize my learnings.

With that, I also start to develop a sense of my own style.

Finally

highlevel

You‚Äôve got content to show off! Take this article for example. And if someone wants to see how many different designs I can do, I have all in my pocket‚Ää‚ÄĒ‚ÄäNeubrutalism, Skeuomorphism, Crazy Colors, Smartwatch, Smart TV and even freaking Car Dashboards!

If you are also stuck like me, I would really recommend doing the challenge.

That said, I did Michal Malewicz’s challenge prompts. He is one of the few unique persons I look forward to. If you are interested (and I bet you already know him), check out his academy and join these challenges for free. And I thank him and my friends from the community again here for the amazing journey.

You know, the best resources are free because they demand your commitment, not your money.



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