10 side‑project ideas to supercharge your creativity (and boost your skills)

This week’s UX roundup has 2 article highlights, 2 design tools, 1 design quote, 1 UX book recommendation, and 1 case study review.

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This week’s UX roundup has 2 article highlights, 2 design tools, 1 design quote, 1 UX book recommendation, and 1 case study review.

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[ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS] 

10 side‑project ideas to supercharge your creativity (& boost your skills)

Dribbble recommends side projects to explore other creative outlets outside of your day-to-day work. Read the article to gain some in-depth pointers!

  1. Start a podcast
  2. Start blogging
  3. Start a newsletter
  4. Create a website about an offbeat passion
  5. Create digital art
  6. Create an app
  7. Create a digital product
  8. Start an open-source project
  9. Create online courses or tutorials
  10. Make (and sell) merchandise

[JOB BOARD] 

Ideate Labs

Junior designers, find your calling here! Ideate Labs creates free resources for new UX’ers but more importantly, they have this awesome job board with postings of both remote and commuting locations from across the U.S. for new designers with 0-2 years of experience. Happy applying! 


[DESIGN TOOL]

Lapa Books

A collection of free UX books, guides, and other resources. This is definitely something worth bookmarking and browsing if you’re interested in practicing a new skill!


[DESIGN PODCAST]

215: Running a hack day

Design Life is a podcast about design and side projects for motivated creators hosted by Charli Prangley and Femke van Schoonhoven. In their most recent episode, Femke shares her experience of running jam days at Uber, and Charli shares her preparation to run a hack day for her team at Convertkit. This episode is a good listen if you feel like your team could use a jam or hack day to shake up some creative juices and get ideas flowing.


[UPCOMING EVENT] 

axe-con – March 10-11, 2021

Axe-con is a free open and inclusive digital accessibility conference that welcomes developers, designers, business users, and accessibility professionals of all experience levels to a new kind of accessibility conference focused on building, testing, and maintaining accessible digital experiences.


[ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS]

A 30–60–90 day plan for product designers

You’ve landed that job finally… Now what? To no surprise, the grind in the industry doesn’t stop after you’ve finally gotten that role and you should set some goals to make the most of your first three months. 

Normally, a 30-60-90 day plan is something you create with your direct reporting manager when you first join the team. These are a set of activities and goals to accomplish within the first few months. They are designed for you to meet the people you’ll be working with, understand the products you’d be working with, and learn the process the team generally follows. From then on, you’ve more or less got your feet on the ground and can start building and innovating. 

Personally, my favorite part of starting a new job is meeting people. It’s no surprise that you should be setting up 1:1s with your manager but it’s also important to set up meetings with fellow colleagues to get a glance at what their skills are and how they operate. Building interconnects certainly makes for easier collaboration but also chatting with others will help you better understand what your personal interests and career endeavors might take you. So build those relationships early and grow that network!


[UX QUOTE]

“The only factor becoming scarce in a world of abundance is human attention.”

Kevin Kelly, founding editor of Wired Magazine and author of The Inevitable


[WATCH THIS]

ACCESS at home

ACCESS at home was an event hosted by 3PlayMedia which brought in speakers and panelists to speak upon accessibility, specifically around audio and captioning. If you missed their event, visit the page and scroll down to get access to the recordings.


[BOOK RECO] 

Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems

If you enjoyed Steve Krug’s Don’t make me think, then you’ll enjoy its how-to companion book. He teaches an approach to usability testing that anyone can easily apply to their own website or application. This is a great resource to learn how to test any design, focus on what is important, and fix the core problems that emerge.


[DESIGN TOOL]

CSS Button Hover Styles

Even if you’re not big into coding, this site is great to browse ideas for hover states. Animations for hover and active states are generally lacking from UX designers in prototypes so this resource can help you brainstorm possibilities that can elevate your design. 


[CASE STUDY SPOTLIGHT]

Making airport waiting time more useful and pleasant

Designer: Samuel Medvedowsky

Case Study: What’s Next

What’s Next is a product that suggests relevant accommodations and activities based on arrival time at the airport. 

Why this case study is awesome: 

  • Storytelling: Samuel writes in a personal way, then backs up his claims with data, research, and even interactive images. Instead of just showing naked research artifacts, his documentation seamlessly plays into the storytelling
  • Detailed specs: features are thought out and explained by order of priority

While this case study is dated 2014, its presentation is very relevant even today! This is an example of good storytelling where the visuals have been added to enhance the importance of the solution. It makes for the appeal of putting a user at ease with reduced stressors during travel. The case study is laid out chronologically for readers to follow along with the decision-making process but not feel like they’re following a generic cookie recipe. 


[UX COURSE RECOMMENDATION] 

Designing for the Future: UI/UX Prototyping

This Skillshare Staff Pick course teaches the fundamentals of prototyping, from paper prototyping all the way to high fidelity prototypes. The project case is based on redesigning something from your kitchen. Either way, this course reinforces the value of prototyping: test ideas quickly and efficiently. 

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