When you open the Topcoder website, there are probably several UI design challenges available that will grab your attention and interest. How can you manage your time well so you can create designs to compete in all of them at once?
Every UI design challenge in the Topcoder community has tight deadlines so you need to make the most of your time. Don’t submit designs that you are not happy with as the competition is fierce and this will reduce your chances of getting a checkpoint prize of $100 or a grand prize in the last round.
You must have a way of working or design process that is efficient to meet the customer’s requirements and allow you to submit on several challenges at the same time with close deadlines.
Maybe you can create designs quickly, but don’t sacrifice a good user experience, because this will greatly affect the client’s assessment of your design. In this article I will give a couple of tips on how to create the best designs for UI design challenges that have tight deadlines.
Before deciding to compete in a design challenge in the Topcoder community, it helps to read the brief and understand the problems encountered and the goals to be achieved by the client. Take about one hour to find a bright idea for a great UX that you will be able to apply to the client’s problem; in this way you will create your design faster. Make a sketch on paper that includes all the ideas that you get so that nothing is missed later in the design process. This is very important for you to do before deciding to jump into a design challenge.
If you are having trouble finding the best idea for the challenge you can look at the UI / UX designs of other designers found on dribbble or behance sites. You will find a variety of designs with the best user experience and a clean and beautiful user interface.
In the internet era there are more and more distractions that can make you lose focus such as watching videos on Youtube, seeing updates on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter and chatting with friends on Whatsapp or Telegram. if you are not vigilant then all of these things will take up your time designated to create UI designs.
The way to overcome the distractions is to turn off all notifications and if necessary keep your smartphone away from the desk. For those of you who use MacOS you can use the Focus Application that will block access to all entertainment sites that can interfere with your design process. The focus application will open a page that contains inspirational quotes to help you become more enthusiastic about the design process.
After you overcome all the distractions then it’s time to make a schedule that you must obey during the design process. For example, you make a schedule to spend one to two hours looking for inspiration then next you start sketching and finally make a schedule to start designing several UI design screens according to the challenge brief.
If you have participated in various UI design challenges in the Topcoder community, surely you see that often clients come from different backgrounds, whether it is construction, communications, health, banking, cryptocurrency, technology or many more.
This requires you to get out of your comfort zone and do a lot of research about areas that you have not yet mastered or fields that are still unfamiliar to you. You can read articles, watch videos, try to visit locations that you have never been to or do things that you have been very afraid of, if this would help better understand the customer’s problem.
Understanding the different backgrounds of our customers is a good thing as this will help you in future challenges for the same customer and also for others. This accumulated experience is one of the elements that helps veteran designers win challenges.
Doing new things will make you become a more creative and innovative person. This will certainly encourage you to design faster, better and more efficiently, because it’s never too late to learn new things.
The Topcoder UI design challenges will pay money only to the top three winners and five members who get a $100 checkpoint prize. So if you only make designs that seem perfunctory or don’t meet all the requirements then all your work for the challenge will end in vain.
Make sure you make the design wholeheartedly and make the best use of time so that you can complete all the requirements, even if you only have limited time. It is different if you are working on a personal project that has given you an advance of 50% of the total price agreement between you and the client, which allows you to relax while further working on the design.
Keep in mind that you will sketch faster with the help of a pencil and paper than using a design application. Because we have been accustomed to using pencils, pens, and paper since childhood, this has become a natural habit of most humans.
It doesn’t matter how good your drawing ability is, the most important thing is to explore concepts and ideas to apply to the design in a fast way. Try to explore as many ideas as possible and when ready, you can create high-fidelity designs in design applications such as Sketch, Adobe XD and Photoshop. If you sketch with the help of a pencil and paper then you will be able to make high fidelity designs in a design application in a relatively faster time than if you made the sketches in a design application that will eventually make you spend your time searching for ideas.
Even if you want to create a UI design quickly, it doesn’t mean you have to do it for days straight and forget to take a break. If you lack rest, this will make you less creative and can make you run out of ideas. When creating designs, not resting will waste your time.
It is better to set a strict schedule, for example, limited to only seven hours per day, then you use these seven hours to make the best and fastest design possible. In this phase you have to be fully invested in making the design and as much as possible block out all things that can interfere with the process.
It is undeniable that if you want to create a fast design, you must have a high-tech computer, such as Macbook Pro or Dell XPS, which has an accurate screen for the needs of designers. Using a twenty-four inch external monitor (or larger) will help you create designs without the need to zoom in / out of the work screen in a design application.
Don’t forget to have a fast and unlimited internet connection. As I experienced when using a data package-based internet connection, I was unable to explore the internet looking for various things to help the design process. Make your workspace as comfortable as possible with items like a comfortable work chair and an air conditioner in the room. This will make you more focused on the design process.
So are you going to apply all the tips above? Try to practice them in the process of designing in a UI design challenge. These tips have definitely helped me a lot, feel free to give them a try and see how your performance will improve.