Completing the Daily UI Challenge – 6 Things I Learnt
August 15, 2021
A few days ago, my mindless scrolling through various apps on my phone led me to the Daily UI Challenge. At first I thought, here we go again – yet another design challenge. At a glance, it seemed fairly straightforward – design 100 interfaces over 100 days.
I thought to myself – this sounds easy, but who could really be bothered? The other half of my brain thought – go on, try it out. Test your determination.
So, without thinking much of it, I plugged my email into the signup form. Not long after, the first challenge arrived. I opened it, ignored it and went on with my day. Day 2, same thing. Day 3 rolled by, then day 4, day 5....
As I was logging off for the day I thought – this is going to guilt me for a whole 100 days, isn't it? I decided to whip open Sketch before heading off for the day, and furiously whipped up the days I had missed out on.
I then realised, I was hooked. I googled a few days ahead, and began working on those. I loved the fact I didn't have to dream up my own scenarios, and a world of other designers out there had also been completing these challenges on a daily basis.
I found the challenge a valuable exercise, and here's why.
1 — My imagination got to run wild
More often than not, the day-to-day routine of your work is fairly predictable. If you work on a B2B SaaS product, you generally know what to expect – charts, tables, reports, login, onboarding, design components.
What I loved about the challenge was many days contained challenges outside of your usual dimensions. For example, designing a hotel booking form or a mobile boarding pass isn't something I usually did. This meant my imagination got to work a little harder than usual, and I believe it helped me become a better designer.
As designers, we don't always get to fully utilise our imagination on a day-to-day basis – and I believe we can all benefit from challenges, such as Daily UI – that allow us to do so.
If you're taking the challenge, put your imagination into it. Focus on the challenges that fall outside your
2 — It's a great excuse to try different tools & devices
It's easy to fall into a pattern of designing with the tools you know, for the devices you know. If you're a designer working on web-based SaaS products that uses Sketch and InVision for example, you might not venture into the realm of mobile too often.
I tried to use the Daily UI Challenge as an excuse outside my usual devices and tools, so I could better understand some of the other tools in the stack.
Over the 100 days, I managed to use Adobe XD, Farmer, Principle, Illustrator, Photoshop, Sketch, Figma and InVision to complete all of my challenges – and came to truly love Figma by the end. I also took a mobile-first approach to the project, as I primarily focus on web products in my day-to-day.
If you're taking the challenge, consider broadening your horizons on the tools & devices you use to truly maximise your own personal outcomes.
3 — A great way to boost your portfolio
If you don't have a lot of content inside your portfolio, the Daily UI Challenge can be a great way to add another piece to it.
While it may not be a real-life project, you can put a lot of time and effort into your designs and design decisions, and explain those out in detail on your portfolio.
I am not a recruiter, and can't say it will definitively change your outcomes, but it certainly does allow you the chance to flex your designs skills and show your mindset towards solving design solutions.
4 — It's a great way to connect with the design community
My best advice is, once you complete a day's work, share it out on your social networks – Dribbble, Twitter, Instagram or others.
Not only will you get a nice bit of visibility, you'll also find yourself connecting with other designers who interact with your works and leave you feedback. It's a very simple way to grow your network, and find other designers to connect with.
For example, over the course of my 100 days, I managed to add over 500 new Twitter followers, joined 3 Slack design communities and had countless conversations with other designers on Twitter.
5 – You might find some new opportunities as a result
While it was not my driver for completing the work, I found a nice benefit of having potential clients and employers contact me that had found my works online.
Whether you're looking for a job, freelance work or something else, it's always beneficial to receive new opportunities in case you find something that could help take your design career to the next level.
Plus, it's always nice to keep this in the back of your mind when completing your designs. If you put in that bit of extra effort to make them pixel-perfect, you never know what might happen!