Why I Stopped DailyUI
I remember seeing it grace my homepage when I opened Chrome. DailyUI seemed to be an easy solution to beef up my portfolio. As mid-February approaches the end of the 20 weeks or 100 design prompts of Daily UI finally comes to an end, and I couldn’t help but reflect on why I didn’t make it to the end of the challenge.
After graduation, I found myself at a startup working in marketing and collaborating very closely with our engineers and sales team to create for primarily HVAC dealers. I have created everything from technical drawings to tradeshow booths, product photography to launching social media campaigns. Even with the diversity of the projects, I still felt I was lacking in user interface design. This is where DailyUI came in. It was perfect to fill that need.
DailyUI is a daily design challenge that is sent to your inbox over the course of 20 weeks. It went viral in the design community on Twitter and on Dribbble back in October and for a few weeks it flooded the feeds of the design minded. Everyone was invited to “Become a better designer in 100 days” and everyone RSVPed to attend, myself included. It went very well for a couple days. I woke up excited to see that my inbox had for me, like it was my birthday. I found some people on Twitter, like myself, getting into design and looking for a way to beef up their skills and their portfolio. I started on Twitter and then after two weeks I took a little bit of a break and then moved the remaining posts to my Tumblr, from there it was too hard to manage designing every day.
The problem with Daily UI is that each daily email is merely a prompt to follow: a sign up form, a landing page, a crowd funding campaign. There is no defined problem, there is no context or audience. Each design felt lost, taken from a world where their solutions had no actual problems in the first place. I tired to create problems to solve for in each design. One was a dog finder, another was an e-commerce checkout for a wine cellar. But as there were problems to solve for, there was also research to be done and planning for user experience. What was supposed to take ten minutes everyday began to take upwards to a couple hours. When I just focused on form, the designs felt hollow.
I’m not the first one to note this. There are fantastic posts about the dribbbleisation of design where designers are merely creating work for the approval of their peers and not to solve for the needs of their audience and the waves of context-less designs of #DailyUI has definitely contributed to this. Good design is not as easy as creating visually appealing design, and each post took time away from solving rich and complex problems.
With all of the reasons I didn’t finish DailyUI, it is also worth it to note that it does have benefits. DailyUI highlighted a community that was excited to create with one another. DailyUI, much like any once-a-day project, holds the same benefits as exercising everyday. Carving out a few minutes to focus on every day helps to figure out the best way to execute something visually faster. This makes more time to iterate and edit so the design can ship faster.
With all the pros and cons I definitely learned a lot about what it takes to create meaningful design. Perhaps in the future there will be a mailing list that sends out a brief instead of a prompt, and maybe every week instead of everyday. Designers are problem solvers and becoming a better designer have to involve creating solutions and not just interfaces.