What having Apple as a client taught me

Prototyping: From UX to Front End — Medium | Shay Ho

I was lucky enough to I’ve worked for Apple, one of the biggest brand in the world. It was a bit of a shocking but proud moment of my career as a designer.

As you could probably guess, it wasn’t an easy job, not that I couldn’t handle it, but it’s the stress, the workload (my worst day was 18 hours) and the disciplines involved. I was proud that I was an organised person, a tidy freak even, the job made it worse (or better ¯\\_(ツ)_/¯). Of course I learned a lot in the course of those 2 years.

[Image description: A skeleton in a dining room with a glass of wine. Text says “When you finally get home after a long day at work. Wiped out.”

1. Organisation is key.

“Normal people” (non-designer, or even some, possibly graduates, designers) think design is only creativity and not about being tidy. Who cares if you have a messy work environment, right? We just need to be free and creative, right? But as a professional of the craft, organisation clears your schedule of looking for files, writing documents, handoffs or anything that is not design but very important. Thus, you guessed it, more time to create.

Imagine if you have 30 screens to create in Sketch, and you don’t start organise your document from the beginning, you’ll have a bad time trying to make sure those buttons are the same colours.

Or if you use Photoshop and you have 30 screens with a million documents to read, assets to use, good luck locating things after the 3rd screens.

So yeah, you’d better kick those habits soon.

Tips: Split your files into different folders. Mine are: Assets, WIP and _exports usually. I may have more with bigger projects.

[Image description: File organisation]

2. Tidy up along the way.

So you started a project, everything is looking good but you didn’t bother tidy up those odd pixels, or your artboards everywhere. Oh boy, you’re gonna a bad time. Why? Because unless you’re fresh out of uni and never know about what handoffs are, or you work as a freelancer your whole life, you’re probably going to have to help your engineers do their jobs. No one likes people who dump Sketch or Photoshop files with no specs or off pixels. And you don’t want to do it at the end of your project either.

I know it may sound tedious but it’s part of the job (not to me though, I looooooove tidy documents).

Tips: There is a plugin in Sketch call Sketch Measure that will speed up your process and remind you to tidy up your file.

3. Less is more.

This is not a new thing. But it’s not an easy thing either. When I was younger, I tend to do too much and I never knew when to stop. Working for this client forced me to do just that. The devil is in the details, one animation can be so tiny you barely see it but it adds to the charm of it all.

[Image description: style poster of “KISS, Keep it simple stupid”]

Cliche, I know, but ask yourself everytime you do something “Does it serve a purpose? Does it make my design better? Does this feature help my users?”

Tips: Atomic Design helps me a lot with this. I have bricks to build from instead of throw everything in to the artboard and call it a day. You can also read more about Design System to expand your design horizon.

You can also purchase UI kits or Design systems to speed up your process [Image description: A GIF of Cabana Design System by kissmyui]

4. Learn to code.

This has been a popular topic lately. No, I’m not saying you have to understand all the languages and frameworks (unless you want to), but understand the basics helps.

Firstly, you’ll know what are the limitations that you have to work with so you don’t have to iterate and iterate and iterate. No, it’s not going limit your creativity. In fact, having limitations help you focus and you can solve the real problems for the users.

Secondly, you can speak your engineers’ language. So instead of trying to explain what “leading” is and you can say line-height and everyone is happy.

Tips: Make friends with a couple of software engineers, or at least be friendly with them. They can probably learn something from you too 😉

[Image description: A meme of Buzz Lightyear saying “Coding, coding everywhere” to Woody from Toy Story]

I know these seem obvious but they can be bad habits that hard to break. Did you have any similar experience where you had to change your work approach? Let me know your thoughts.

Shay is a Vietnamese UX designer based in Sydney, Australia.


What having Apple as a client taught me was originally published in Prototypr on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.