A week ago, I managed to get a job in a app dev company. They create apps based on clients' needs.

Before that, I'm a general graphics designer who also does some app UI mockup but it's for in-house purposes, not for clients. As for my background, I mainly use photoshop / illustrator / balsamiq mockups and I have basic understanding of HTML/CSS/JQuery and basic programming principles.

1) I'll start work at the new company in 1+ months time. What books or website should I read or practice now during this period so that when I start work, I won't be lost? The first few months of joining a new company is the most painful due to zero comfort zone. Do I need to memorize the Android Material design encyclopedia by heart and the iOS too?

2) I've a huge issue which I never understood. When meeting clients to discuss the app and requirements, what questions do u ask the client? How do you develop the app based on their needs? Do you guys refer to similar existing apps on the market and create the app mockups based on that? Trying to convert "users' needs" and that sort of thing into UI feels really abstract to me.

3) In agencies like this sort, there's usually a project manager to manage the project and in my case, my boss is the project manager (no senior designer or art director there). Is the project manager usually responsible for dealing with the client and collecting the design brief and data etc.?

4) In most app dev companies, what's the speed of work like? How long do u guys (UI designers) usually take to finish the mockups for the average app?


2 Answers 2


The answers to your questions vary greatly depending on the company you work for, their style of work and other business factors. But I’ll advise as best I can, based on my experience.

1) I would recommend basic readings of:

Donald Norman, Design of Everyday Things

Steve Krug - Don't Make Me Think

Jesse Garrett - The Elements of User Experience

If you love to read, you can find many more in a UX book collection, such as this.

It’d also be useful to become familiar with the Android and iOS guidelines, but don’t worry about memorising them, that’ll come with time and practice.

2) Understanding a clients needs is all about asking the right questions. Obviously, I can’t give you a set of questions because all clients differ, but the key thing to understand is you are there to analyse what it is clients need, and why they need that. You need to analyse what they say, and translate that into effective solutions. Referring to existing apps can be useful - eg. if your client is working with a lot of file/data management, check out the heavy hitters like Dropbox etc. - but don’t rely on other apps for your inspiration. Try to get away from your computer screen, using a pen and paper to deeply understand the user’s needs. Have faith in yourself, with a good understanding of UX principles you will be able to apply these to the user’s needs. Knowing a good set of ‘patterns’ can be useful here, you could read more about those here: Theresa Neil - Mobile Design Pattern Gallery

3) Yes, a project manager is usually responsible for communicating with a client, ensuring the project stays on track and leading the direction. But be prepared to take responsibility for your own work, and don’t be afraid to ‘own’ a part of the project.

4) This question is too subjective to answer, it depends on too many factors. If you’re unsure, ask your coworkers or your project manager. Being honest here is key, there’s no need to pretend to be something you’re not!

Do remember to have faith in yourself and your abilities. Read a lot, practice daily and most important of all, I think, practice being a good listener.

Best of luck.

  • Tks a lot! I've rented some of the books above today.
    – Xeon
    Apr 2, 2016 at 2:29

It's an app development company. Get both an Android device and an iOS device. And start downloading and using apps. Every single app you can find recommended for every single app usage activity.

You have one month. If you download and use 10 apps per day, each for an hour per day, and note their 'on boarding' experience, the level of discoverability, familiarity, conventional-ness of the UI (or otherwise) and fitness for its stated purpose, etc.

Become an expert on apps. 30 days, 300 apps.

Try the top ten in each of these categories:

  • Mail
  • Text Editors / Word Processors
  • Code Editors
  • Illustrative Drawing
  • Video Editors
  • Photo Editors
  • Painting
  • Todo Lists
  • Calendars
  • Download/Storage/Cloud Management
  • Mapping/Navigation
  • Fitness
  • Expenditure Management
  • And any and all categories of apps pertinent to the company you're going to work at. Become a virtual library of the UI paradigms and UX processes in the market.

Keep notes, take screenshots, record videos/voiceovers of yourself commenting and thinking about the experience in each app. Review them all.

Do a category of apps per day, more if you can. Pick the best features, functionality and UI elements and UX processes from each, and imagine the perfect app for each category.

Now you're a UX designer.

All the books, websites, videos and tutoring in the world can't beat out the above done with diligence, discipline and dedication.

  • Tks, I will do that!
    – Xeon
    Apr 2, 2016 at 2:29

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