Light sipping into a dark room from a slightly open door.
Light sipping into a dark room from a slightly open door.

Working as a contractor in digital product design is amazing. You’ll get to be in control of your work arrangements while charging rates usually a fair bit higher than permanent employment offers. These high rates compensate for unpaid annual leave and lack of pension schemes, and cover running costs such as insurance and accounting.

But if the steady routine of a regular 9–5 job year after year doesn’t suit your lifestyle, and you’ve got a bit of financial acumen, my experience tells me that being a contractor offers you both freedom and good finances. …

I'm happy to see that more and more people are talking about this. I've come to learn the same thing the hard way (and written about it as well).

UX is a thing, but UX design should die. Currently I'm using Product designer and Product architect (or equally good UI designer and UI architect) to distinguish between requirements and production.

Cover art — Mockitt, Figma or Axure for UI prototyping?
Cover art — Mockitt, Figma or Axure for UI prototyping?

Late last year I received an invitation to try out and review Mockitt, a UI prototyping tool. I had never heard of it before, and judging from the eminent and annual UXTools survey, it wasn’t picked up by the masses either.

I have to admit I’m having a hard time keeping up with the latest tools. I stick with tried and tested industry standards, just enough up to date to fit in with most design teams I join as a contractor.

My personal experience aligns well with the UXTools survey when it comes to tools used for UI design and…

Various stimuli made me think about the topic of staying relevant lately.

Cover art symbolising focus shift.
Cover art symbolising focus shift.
Glasses by Xinh Studio and Binoculars by Tom Ingebretsen, from the Noun Project.

The key contributor, I think, is the constant reminder of how highly valued a glossy surface is. A slick and modern UI will get the votes in 2020 (instead of the insights and process that should proceed it).

The problem is that anyone can design a slick and modern UI in 2021.

But first, some history.

Being a UI designer in 2001

The craft of UI design was hard in 2001. Most of the time it was a matter of applying usability and creativity (ever so stifled) to a medium that had limited styling options. It was a constant struggle of making the most of small…

What is the best way to enter the date of birth in mobile forms? Here are four options to consider.

Illustration of form fields.
Illustration of form fields.

In one of my recent projects, I’ve been designing the registration form for an iOS app. Form design is a classic UI challenge — One can spend a day designing a registration form, spend the rest of the week honing it, and the rest of the year optimising it once it’s live. Form design is notoriously known for being filled with pitfalls, and in mobile forms, it gets even trickier.

A simple text input field isn’t much of a cumber, but the birth date input forced me to think carefully before settling on something. …

Questions to ask yourself to pin down where you are and what to do next.

Illustration of a messy design process.
Illustration of a messy design process.

‘Where are we?’ is not only one of my favourite tunes — It’s also a good question to ask ourselves when we join a new product development project.

You know that illustration of the design process as it really is; the one that turns a straight line into a tangled piece of yarn? It’s kinda like that when you step into a new project, trying to work out what the brief is really about and how you can best support the project goals.

It can be quite stressful knowing that it’s up to you to define the design plan but…

If you ask a UX professional what UX strategy is, you’d get answers as widely spread as hippo poo, of which the majority would be vague.

Illustration of a venn diagram
Illustration of a venn diagram

Why? Because strategy is a confusing catch-all phrase, but still we want to include it in our skillset. Because it’s expected of us:

In any project in which you work as a UX designer, it is fundamental to start by drafting a solid strategy.

Jerome Kalumbu

I’m guilty of this; calling myself a design strategist but secretly hoping no one would call me out on it. If someone did, I would probably say something about defining the right approach for the target audience. …

Illustration of the ‘Double diamond’ design process.
Illustration of the ‘Double diamond’ design process.

We all know that the design process can get messy. And that’s fine.

Every project is different and needs its unique approach for full efficiency. On top of that, every designer has their own preferred way of getting to the finish line. That’s obviously fine too.

There are only really two things that matter when you join a new project as a designer; the beginning and the end. Or in other words — the project definition/brief and the design documentation.

Everything in between; how you explore, iterate and test design is up to personal preference. But the brief and the…

Here’s another rant from someone who’s been handed the UX designer title for the last seven years. Things have accumulated over the years, you know. It’s time to get it off my chest.

Call it therapy if you want.

A road sign stating ‘Wrong way’.
A road sign stating ‘Wrong way’.
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

In a recent post on the InVision blog, Brittany Anas wrote:

Many job listings use the generalized term “UX designer” to mean different things.

This is true from my experience. I often landed in design teams as the ‘UX designer’ expected to deliver anything from user insights to user stories and visual design. But almost always was there someone else in the company who felt that I was intruding on their turf, doing their job.

And I’ve experienced that side of the fence too; new team members assuming ownership over something I considered being…

Man sitting against a wall with a book in his hand. He looks lost and mentally drained.
Man sitting against a wall with a book in his hand. He looks lost and mentally drained.
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

In his book Drive, Daniel Pink lists three things you need in order to be content at your workplace:

Autonomy, mastery and purpose.

After ten years in product development I had carved out a pretty decent path for myself. There was no shortage in opportunities to practise and improve my skills. As a senior consultant autonomy was usually given to me as well. But as you may have guessed by the title of this article, I had a nagging sense that I was lacking purpose.

As Pink pointed out in Drive, you need purpose to feel completely content at work…

Martin Sandström

Designing digital interfaces. Kitesurfer. Travels a lot.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store