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Why I created Better UI Design

If any of my success is down to me, I owe it to one thing - "study, and don't stop" - which I learned from my old boss Drayton Bird.

When I started as a UX Designer, I read everything I could. I learned about information architecture, ideation, and research. I moved on to user interface design and learned about layout, typography, and colour. And then I noticed that something was missing.

Hang on. What about the drop shadows?

Experienced designers were happy to write books about how to lay out a page, and how grid systems work. They were happy to write about the elements of typographic style. Happy to write about colour, which is not the easiest topic to write about.

But no-one wrote about drop shadows.

As someone who relied on the writing of others to become better, not being able to buy a book about something was frustrating. What made it more so was that I saw drop shadows everywhere. The default drop shadow offered by my design software wasn't as nice as the ones I saw elsewhere, so clearly these designers didn't tick a box to apply a drop shadow, and leave it there.

These UI designers knew something I didn't. Where did they learn it? I quickly found out that almost all of them learned it by copying other people. The secrets of good drop shadows are passed from generation to generation like a family secret. And none of them were writing it down, as far as I could tell.

As I learned more about UI design, I noticed more techniques that weren't covered in books or courses about UI design. If those books or courses did mention the techniques, they did it very briefly before they moved on to something else.

Like any person whose eyes are bigger than their stomach, I decided to write my own book. I collected examples of techniques that weren't well covered by UI courses or books. I created all of my own example images so I wouldn't rely on screenshots of other people's work.

Quickly I realised that it's a nightmare to write a book, because you have to be "done" at some point. I knew the content would make more sense on a website that I could update whenever I found new techniques.

And that's the story of how Better UI Design was born. It's a catalogue of UI techniques that I've come across, and that you can use to improve your user interfaces.

For the record, I did eventually come across people who write about these techniques in one way or another. Erik D Kennedy and Steve Schoger are two great examples.

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