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How to improve your visual skills as a UX/UI designer

Your creativity will always surface when you add yourself to the design.

UX/UI Design
3 minute read 

Is your visual design missing something? Does it need more spacing, rhythm, or contrast? You might also think the typography you chose looks odd after putting it together with the other components of your design. It looked so great on the style guide, but now, something just doesn't feel right.

Although experience design is catered to make things simple and easy to use, we deliver this experience through graphic and visual communication design. These two are careers in and of themselves. So, if you've landed in the UX/UI path by taking one of our awesome boot camps or others out there, you might have the following question rumbling around your head… How do I improve my visual skills as a UX/UI designer?

Let's strip back the band-aid! Let me tell you, this feeling is the exact motivation that will take your career to the next level. Experienced designers with years in the business feel this way too. The trick is to search for inspiration, observe and practice! Let's walk through the processes that have greatly improved our visual design skills.

Stay trendy and critical

Inspiration is everywhere; Instagram, TikTok, Figma's Community, Behance, Dribble, Pinterest… literally everywhere! There is no excuse not to be current in the UI world. We encourage you to be critical of what you are seeing. Something might look great, but it doesn't mean that is the best case for user experience. When it comes to inspirations and trends, what can you do?

Be observant and actively inspired

Instead of waiting for inspiration, go ahead and knock on its door by searching for other designers' works. You can use the following sites:

You can also search design trends directly by using the following keywords:

  • UX/UI design trends 2022
  • Dark Mode
  • Neumorphism
  • UI Animations
  • 3D in UX/UI

Observe with a critical mind at work

For those designs that have caught your attention, try and ask questions like:

  • Why am I drawn to this design?
  • What makes it stand out to me?
  • Is the color pallet calling to me?
  • Is it the spacing or typography?

Whether you listed these questions or not, congrats! You practiced an observation technique that is key for UX/UI designers. Make this a habit and keep searching the web and social media to be inspired while practicing critical thinking.


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Practice copy work without guilt

Although we learn this technique in our earliest stages as designers, many of us still feel guilty. We feel like we are stealing someone else's great work. To be completely honest, nothing is created from an empty mind. Knowing design patterns is necessary for this to be possible.

Copy work is meant to teach us the relationships between component spacing and organisation. Just like practicing calligraphy, you need to start with a base and work through several steps of repeating that work until you have brain-to-eye coordination. You can also escalate this into color coordination, contrast, typography, and more.

How to practice copy work

Grab a design you've recently been drawn to and start exercising by doing the following:

  1. Opening Figma and creating a new design file.
  2. Pasting in a screenshot of your source of inspiration.
  3. Recreating all elements of the design in a frame by designing what you see: Containers, Buttons, Typography…and more, and by determining spacing by drawing columns and rows over it.
  4. Trying to do it again without having the guide visible.
  5. Describing or documenting what you've learned along the way.

Make it into a habit

Try to make this a habit by practicing one copy work design a week. You can stay accountable and make it more fun by sharing your process on social media. You can make it more educational by exploring ways to improve this or your own design.

If you are still having problems with guilt after doing this practice, here's a quote from the art master himself, Leonardo da Vinci: "The artist ought first to exercise his hand by copying drawings from the hand of a good master."

Closing thoughts

We know that copy work and searching for inspiration might sound uncomfortable to some, but most learning starts by observation and mimicking what you are observing. If you want to stay on top of your game, you must dismantle that discomfort and apply the techniques we discussed. Your creativity will always surface when you add yourself to the design. Take advantage of it and start practicing. The sooner you make this a habit, the sooner you'll harvest excellent visual skills.

If you are looking for more inspiration, we recommend searching for more great ideas from our Memorisely creators in our community!