How to put design theory into practice in an efficient way
Learning design theory is a good step towards becoming a better designer, but it is also important to put the things you’ve learned into practice. Workbooks are great since they allow you to directly apply your knowledge. In this article, I show you my favorite design workbooks.
- Design Challenges Workbook by Supercharge Design
- Design the App From Scratch by Bojan Novakovic and Michał Filipiuk
- Figmaster plugin by Matt Wierzbicki
- Solving Product Design Exercises by Artiom Dashinsky
- Free UX Course & Figma Workbook by Kickass UX
I also added my own workbooks:
✨ Design Challenges Workbook by Supercharge Design
Some facts about this massive workbook:
- 15 challenges with detailed briefs (user and business goals, constraints) & video guides
- different focuses (e.g. research, UX design, UI design) and platforms (e.g. web app, mobile app, AR app, wearable app)
- a 153-page long workbook that describes all the challenges
As a result of completing these challenges, you’ll not only apply your theoretical design knowledge in practice, but at the same time you’ll have the chance to build a solid foundation for your design portfolio.
I really appreciate that the projects are very detailed, and each of them has different focus areas, e.g. the challenge called “Pets Social Media App” is mainly about research and UX design:
In case of a UI-focused challenge, the wireframes are provided by Supercharge Design, so that you don’t have to think too much about the UX aspects — this approach helps you focus on the different areas of design:
✨UX/UI Design Workbook: Design the App From Scratch by Bojan Novakovic and Michał Filipiuk
“In this workbook, we’ll design an app together, from scratch. It’s an app that lets the user take care of their plants and track their growth. Even though we’re designing a mobile app, the things you’ll learn will also apply to web design. We’ll cover both the UX and UI design for this app project.”
What makes this workbook unique is that it has 2 parts: the UX part is explained by Bojan Novakovic, while you are guided through the UI design aspects by Michał Filipiuk. They not only provide solutions for the design challenge but also explain their design decisions, as they believe design is ‘all about making good decisions.’
As you read this 200+ page book, you’ll be prompted to ideate and solve little exercises, inviting you to actually design and address the problems stated in the project brief at the beginning of the book.
Bonus: if you purchase the UX/UI Design Workbook: Design the App From Scratch by Bojan Novakovic and Michał Filipiuk, you also get Bojan’s other workbook: UX Design Workbook: Design the Home Screen From Scratch.
This little guide walks you through the design process of creating wireframes for a homescreen. You can learn about some important design principles, understand why it is important to have our target audience (and specific user goals) in mind and how ideation can help you explore many different ideas quickly.
✨Figmaster plugin by Matt Wierzbicki
“Figmaster plugin is a workbook for Figma that contains a large set of exercises on how to build your modern design system from scratch.
By doing exercises in Figma, you learn and create your guide style and component library simultaneously. It is a format that will help you get the most out of each lesson. By learning — you create, and by the way, you get to know keyboard shortcuts, plugins, and techniques of working in Figma that will speed up your workflow. Everything happens in Figma — no distractions.”
I couldn’t have summarized it better! Figmaster is a genius way of teaching, since it lets you learn a tool inside the tool itself. Naturally, it is not only about the software (~learning how to use Figma), it teaches you many general design lessons and also helps you establish a basic design system.
And this is my comment on Product Hunt, as I said, “even advanced Figma users like me can find gems inside the course”.
Note: these are not exactly workbooks, but playgrounds provided by Figma are also great (and a bit similar to Figmaster ~ you learn the tool inside the tool), e.g.:
(Btw. if you want to learn Figma, check out my Figma Study Guide)
✨ Solving Product Design Exercises by Artiom Dashinsky
“The best designers don’t just have great visual taste, although aesthetics certainly plays a big part. But the most successful designers in our industry today have a deep understanding of how design affects business and its value within the organisation.”
The main focus of this book is to provide you with a systematic approach, as the title suggests, to solving design exercises. It also explains how interview processes typically look in the design industry. I believe that the most valuable part of the book is the one that contains five detailed exercises with solutions. I really appreciate how Artiom encourages us to think beyond aesthetics when tackling design problems.
And who is the book for? As the author explains, it is
“[…] for anyone who wants to understand the Product Designer role at tech companies, to get a sense of what kind of challenges they are dealing with and to practice solving them.”
The author gives you a framework for solving the design challenges: the 5W1H questions:
- Why (e.g. why is this product important, how does it benefit the users?)
- Who (your target audience)
- When and where (users’ context and needs, e.g. their emotional context)
- What (possible solutions — how to design for the users’ needs)
- How to measure success (e.g. task completion time, conversion)
As I mentioned, the book contains 5 detailed tasks with possible solutions:
- Designing a kiosk interface
- A self-publishing platform for Amazon
- A dashboard for freelancers
- Improving primary health care
- Improving the ATM experience
and a task list with many-many additional tasks mentioned in the book.
I also like this UI Breakfats podcast episode with Artiom Dashinsky:
✨ Free UX Course & Figma Workbook by Kickass UX (Colton Schweitzer and Ludovic Delmas
Throughout this free UX course provided by Kickass UX, you’ll work for a company called REI. Next to over 20 lessons that teach you the basics of UX design, you’ll get a hands-on experience: the course is all about doing research and crafting a solution to a user and business problem.
Kickass UX provides you with a Figma workbook designed to guide you through the main phases: you should complete the exercises to get most out of this course.
You’ll find transparent frames inside the Figma workbook that contain possible solutions, you can just simply change their opacity to reveal the answers included by Kickass UX.
✨ Sketching for UX Designers Workbook by me 🙂
This 24-page long workbook will help you practice drawing basic shapes, icons and other UI elements; it shows you how to work on your handwriting and more.
Get the Sketching for UX Designers Workbook here, it is available on a pay-what-you-want basis.
✨ The 100-day Long UX Visual Library Building Challenge by me 🙂
Build a habit around sketching (5 minutes a day), establish a UX visual library of 300 hand-drawn icons, bonus: monthly challenges (252 more icons)
The way it works is that I give you prompts, things and concepts to sketch out, then you can examine my solutions and draw inspiration from them. It is designed for daily sketching, but feel free to complete it at your own pace!
Read more about the challenge in my article.
💬Do you know about any other design workbooks I should check out? Please let me know, I might feature it in this article!
My favorite UX design workbooks: develop your skills by solving exercises was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.