I love challenges.
I love to experiment with new ways of maximising my output and learnings over a short period of time.
They’ve taught me a lot over time, and helped me better myself in various fields such as design and writing.
Not long ago, I completed the Daily UI Challenge.
I designed 100 interfaces over 100 days.
It wasn’t easy. I often missed days, had to spend weekends catching up — but managed to produce some pieces I was extremely proud of.
More than anything, I was fortunate to learn a thing or two along the way that I believe would be valuable for other designers.
Here’s what I learnt.
1 —Challenges are a great way to get your imagination flowing
Often the day-to-day routine of work and business can impact upon your creativity.
As designers, we need our creativity to be firing on all cylinders. Click to tweet.
Having someone prepare a brief everyday, send it to you and leave you to complete it allows you to focus solely on the design. You don’t have to do any writing or preparation — just put your headphones on and jump into Sketch.
For me, this was valuable.
It really allowed me to take a break from business and focus solely on design decisions.
This renewed sense of imagination not only helped me complete the challenge, but also take that back to work and lift my game.
2 — They’re a great way to try out new tools
As designers, we’re constantly being bombarded with new tools every day. Since I completed the challenge and wrote this article, I’ve seen even more tools that I want to try.
Over the course of 100 days, I tried a range of tools (new and old).
Adobe XD, Framer, Origami, Principle, Illustrator, Photoshop, Sketch and Figma.
Challenges are a great way for you to explore whether your workflow could be improved with a different tool.
For me, I found my existing set of tools was still best — but I could see this changing given some of the newer tools I’ve tried.
3 — Focusing on bite-size pieces helped me with the bigger picture of my designs
The brief you receive each day typically focuses on a distinct element within an interface/product.
Pagination. Settings. Landing page. Checkout. Switches.
Completing these components in isolation helped me focused on what each element needed to maximise its usefulness to a user.
When you can identify what makes for a great profile, pop-up or pricing card, you can combine these elements to form better interfaces.
4— Your portfolio will thank you for it
Motivating yourself to create new works for your portfolio can often be difficult.
Challenges are a great way to not only help you learn, but to create new works for your portfolio.
Showing your process as you complete designs across various days is a great way to show your skills for potential clients viewing your portfolio.
5 — You will find new communities and designers to connect with
As I completed each day’s task, I made a point of sharing my designs under various hashtags/platforms as well as interacting with others completing the challenge.
Over the course of 100 days, I managed to —
Add 500 new Twitter followers, joined two design communities and had countless conversations with various designers online.
Social interactions added another element to my challenge that I didn’t take too seriously before I started the challenge — but were incredibly valuable.
6 – You might find some new opportunities as a result
I was pleasantly surprised to have a few requests come through from potential clients and employers who saw my works that I had posted over the course of 100 days.
This isn’t bound to actually happen for everyone, however —
You’ll never know unless you try.
If you’re producing quality work, and people are noticing, it, they may end up taking some interest.
Nathan Allsopp is a Sydney-based Product Manager/Designer.