rachel-how

Frequently Asked Questions

I often receive questions via Emails, Twitter DMs and LinkedIn from passionate individuals who are interested to dive into UX/UI, Product, Coding. So I decided to answer these questions in public. I hope this FAQ helps you in any way!


On a career in Product Design

1. What’s the career prospect for UX/UI like in Malaysia?


I think the UI/UX industry in Malaysia is not mature yet. However, a lot of companies start investing in it now. I see increasing job opportunities for UI/UX Designers or Product Designers, which is normal as more companies are going digital post-COVID. What I personally faced so far is, sometimes stakeholders might not be aligned with UX best practices. Instilling design thinking in Malaysians, in general, is a constant uphill battle. So we need to work harder to push great UX forward and to deliver a great product in the end. In the near future, however, I believe there'll always be a demand for UX Designers. A great product cannot live without UX designers as there'll always be user problems to solve. Like any other career, you just have to adapt fast to what comes next.


2. What kind of courses did you take to help teach yourself UX/UI?


I didn't take any courses or go to University. Starting out, I didn't know proper design processes, UX principles and fundamental design methods. I Google my problems and learn by doing. After I got a job in Product Design, I improved my skills through my job and mentors at Fave (Archie, Arvin). For courses, I recommend Interaction Design Foundation. But don't forget to put theory into practice. You only learn when you actually try to design something. Disclaimer: I've heard great things about this course but I've never taken it before.


3. What are the skills needed for a good UX/UI designer?


The list is endless but I'll try to keep this concise. - Craft & Execution - Understand UX principles and guidelines (material design, human interface guideline, accessibility) - Visual design skills (good eye for design, attention to detail, interaction design, software, design systems, prototyping) - Design Methods (design thinking, design sprints, jobs-to-be-done framework, journey mapping, usability testing) - Collaboration (PMs, Engineers and other depts) - Product & Business Thinking (measuring success metrics of your design, understanding business goals)


4. Why did you choose UX/UI design?


To me, UX/UI Design is a hybrid of 3 things: Tech, Usability (Functionality) and Aesthetics. I like that I'm able to design something digitally yet also functional (solves a real problem). It's so fascinating to see how humans react to the design and how it affects their actions. Great UX helps people achieve the goal that they're set to achieve. For example, adding shadows to a button helps to elevate the Call-To-Action, which triggers people to click on it. Every tiny little design detail affects the entire product!


5. What’s the best part of the job and what’s your least favourite?


For me, the best part of the job is designing interfaces that solve a problem, whether it's interaction design or building design systems, and then collaborating with developers and Product Managers to watch it come to live. There's never one best way to solve the problem, which means I get to constantly challenge myself to achieve a design breakthrough. As for my least favourite part of the job, I think it would be my day-to-day meetings. I'm an introvert who believes in getting things done efficiently and quickly. Meetings that are unnecessarily long and unproductive makes me mentally exhausted. A good balance of deep focus time and alignment meetings would be nice.


6. How was the process for you to get a job as a Product Designer?


I stumbled upon UI/UX from my previous Digital Marketing role. It was a small company, at that point in time, they needed someone to redesign a few websites. I volunteered for the task, researched on a Wordpress site builder, bought the plugin and started building/designing the site. I didn't know proper design processes, UX principles and fundamental design methods. I learned by doing. If the design fails, I try again. I loved it so much that I worked late nights to achieve the outcome that I want. I google about everything UI/UX, watch YouTube videos and read articles. I start by crafting ONE case study. I aim to make it a really, really strong case study to show recruiters. Prior to this, I designed websites at my previous marketing role, even though it's out of my job scope. At the end of every interview, I ask for feedback on how to improve. I take these advices (eg. improve my knowledge on a subject, show more of my thought process) and revise until I get it right. I treat every job interview like designing a product—I'm the product in this case!


7. Is Product Design a competitive field in the recent years?


Currently, the demand is higher than supply. Companies are opening up more UX roles as businesses go digital, especially due to COVID. The role would be competitive in the near future as more individuals become a UX professional. However, just like any career, there is no future-proof job—We must always be ready to adapt and grow.


8. As a Product Designer, do I need to know coding?


This knowledge comes with experience. The more you talk to developers and understand their pain points, the better you know. There are 2 things you need to know: 1) While designing: Take code feasibility and scalability into consideration when designing. For example, how does the design look like on mobile VS web? How do devs build it in such a way that doesn't compromise the UX? 2) Design Handoff: What info the developer needs, how a designer should structure their handoff process. Different company has different process, you can learn on the job.


9. What do you think about Product Designers on a project basis VS a permanent role?


I think it's better to hire a Product Designer in a permanent role. Design is an iterative process, it doesn't make sense for a company to have designers on contract or project basis. A Product Designer on contract won't have enough time to understand the business, users and iterate on the design. But it depends on the product as well.


10. Starting out, how do you prepare your case study when you have no portfolio?


I refer to top designer's case study on [Bestfolios](https://www.bestfolios.com/casestudy) or other sites like Behance. Then, I work backwards from there. You can also watch youtube where people walk you through how to prepare a case study and the do's/don'ts. The purpose of a case study is for the hiring manager to understand your thought process. Think of it as a story on how you would approach your work! 😊


11. In Malaysia, do companies look for roles who do both UX and UI? How was ur experience?


From my experience, Malaysian companies usually want an all-rounded role so the product designers are capable to handle the end-to-end design process. It's good to equip yourself with both UX and UI skills. You will get better at it as you progress in your career. When starting out, I was transparent about my level of experience (eg. I understand the concept of UX but not good at advanced skills like research, user testing). Most importantly just be honest, grasp the fundamental concepts (I learn from Googling my questions) and don't give up. Quick tip: Always ask for feedback at the end of the interview to know what you need to improve on! 😊


12. I noticed that you've created your own case studies rather than redesigns of apps/websites. What's your take on redesigning app/websites vs creating your own case study for the portfolio?


I generally avoid web/app redesigns without proper context. UI/Web designers redesign stuff and showcase them on Dribbble. As Product Designers, let's not forget the UX side of things—The problem we're trying to solve. Case studies give more depth compared to redesigns. It shows your thought process, design process, way of working. If you want to redesign an existing product, make sure to structure it as a case study. Always start from the problem you set out to solve!


On Indie Hacking, learning to code

1. I'm wondering since you mentioned you only had limited frontend knowledge, why not opt for no code platforms?


Reasons why I chose to build it with code, by myself: 1. No-code tools may cost money and I aim to build things at a lower overhead. I'm proud to say that I only pay for the domain and nothing else (at this point) :D 2. I want to learn by building something all by myself. The process of applying what I learn to production is seriously very satisfying. I find coding very fun lol! Although there are downsides to it, for sure. I tried building new features to my product but it took me a month to figure things out and the code still breaks. I could seek help from a professional, but I really wanted to go through the pain and learn it properly. This is just me. If you're rushing to ship a product, have a tight timeline and don't wanna run into bugs, I think it's okay to go no-code—as long as it's able to achieve your end goal.


2. I really like how you built everything from scratch including the code. Any advice on what I should learn first if I want to start building projects like malaysianswhomake.com?


I think it depends on what you want to build and what coding language you're already familiar with. First, decide on what to build, then learn the necessary skills to get where you want to go. Of course, basic Javascript, HTML, CSS knowledge would help a lot.


3. What coding courses would you recommend for a total beginner?


I'll always suggest to go for free courses first. You can try FreeCodeCamp. It's pretty fun. You can also try Youtube by Traversy Media or Mosh Hamedani.




🥁 Thanks for making it this far! I hope you find this helpful.


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