Building experience through reverse engineering

27 Jan 2010 - 3:55am
4 years ago
5 replies
1232 reads
Astley Le Jasper
2007

I'm pretty green in interface design. I've read quite a lot but
often sit down to start a design and have a complete block. I realise
that there are a lot design patterns on the web, but it can be
difficult to really get a deep appreciation of them.

I'd like to build up some experience. Of course, the best way is to
'just do something'. However, students and newbies, such as myself,
perhaps don't have any real projects or sometimes long gap between
projects.

I was thinking about reverse engineering a couple of sites. This
would give me a chance to build up some skills creating wireframes as
well as getting a feel for how these interfaces are put together.

Perhaps doing some free work for charities might also be useful,
although you if some paid for work came up, it would be unacceptable
to just drop them.

Are there any other learning approaches might be useful in gaining
experience?

ALJ

Comments

27 Jan 2010 - 9:55am
david.shaw6@gma...
2004

Astley,

I think you are on the right approach. I like to call it 'deconstructing'
vs reverse engineering (this is more for code projects). Take a look at
sites/applications and ask yourself how it works or doesn't work and why.
Then, design a different solution for it that you think would make it work
better. Also doing non-profit work is great experience, but if you do take
something, make sure you finish it even if you do receive a paid gig. As a
newbie designer you need to build not only your skillset, but your brand and
reputation. Sticking to your projects and finishing them will position you
much further ahead than if you drop a project because a paid one came along.
You will lose a lot of credibility if you don't stick to it.

HTH, Good luck!

David

On Tue, Jan 26, 2010 at 4:55 PM, Astley Le Jasper <
astley.lejasper at googlemail.com> wrote:

> I'm pretty green in interface design. I've read quite a lot but
> often sit down to start a design and have a complete block. I realise
> that there are a lot design patterns on the web, but it can be
> difficult to really get a deep appreciation of them.
>
> I'd like to build up some experience. Of course, the best way is to
> 'just do something'. However, students and newbies, such as myself,
> perhaps don't have any real projects or sometimes long gap between
> projects.
>
> I was thinking about reverse engineering a couple of sites. This
> would give me a chance to build up some skills creating wireframes as
> well as getting a feel for how these interfaces are put together.
>
> Perhaps doing some free work for charities might also be useful,
> although you if some paid for work came up, it would be unacceptable
> to just drop them.
>
> Are there any other learning approaches might be useful in gaining
> experience?
>
> ALJ
> ________________________________________________________________
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27 Jan 2010 - 11:48am
lachica
2006

It is time-consuming and tedious to look at an existing site and create a
matching site map, document linking behavior, conduct a content inventory
and create wireframes. It would also be highly valuable for an agency or
company embarking on a major web redesign effort.

I would talk to some agencies or companies about internships doing this kind
of work. You would learn a lot about interaction design and you would also
be able to point to the new site at the end of the process and say your work
contributed to the improvements.

Best,
Julie

On Tue, Jan 26, 2010 at 6:55 PM, Astley Le Jasper <
astley.lejasper at googlemail.com> wrote:

> I'm pretty green in interface design. I've read quite a lot but
> often sit down to start a design and have a complete block. I realise
> that there are a lot design patterns on the web, but it can be
> difficult to really get a deep appreciation of them.
>
> I'd like to build up some experience. Of course, the best way is to
> 'just do something'. However, students and newbies, such as myself,
> perhaps don't have any real projects or sometimes long gap between
> projects.
>
> I was thinking about reverse engineering a couple of sites. This
> would give me a chance to build up some skills creating wireframes as
> well as getting a feel for how these interfaces are put together.
>
> Perhaps doing some free work for charities might also be useful,
> although you if some paid for work came up, it would be unacceptable
> to just drop them.
>
> Are there any other learning approaches might be useful in gaining
> experience?
>
> ALJ
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

27 Jan 2010 - 6:44pm
greg
2009

On Tue, Jan 26, 2010 at 5:55 PM, Astley Le Jasper
<astley.lejasper at googlemail.com> wrote:
> Are there any other learning approaches might be useful in gaining
> experience?

Hi Astley,

One other area that is always looking for volunteers is the Open
Source Software world. You mentioned working with a charity which is
certainly noble. A benefit of Open Source Software is that OSS
developers are more likely to give critical feedback and ultimately
implement the ideas of a designer whereas a charity is unlikely to
really understand your ideas to be able to critique them. And, when
working on OSS you are often ultimately benefiting charity
organizations.

One great example is the Drupal project which is a social publishing
platform that is the basis of the new IxDA.org. As we head toward the
launch of the new version of IxDA.org one of the ideas we've been
tossing around is how people who want to improve the experience on
IxDA.org can improve the core and contributed modules of Drupal which
can then be updated or deployed on IxDA.org. This way IxDA.org
benefits as do all the other great organizations in the world who use
Drupal (e.g. Amnesty International and Greenpeace among thousands of
others).

One other benefit of working on OSS is that you can point to the work
you did and the value it has to the world. If you go to apply for a
job and say "I improve the intranet for small charity X" that is hard
for the person hiring you to evaluate. If you say "here is the public
research I posted in the issue queue for the project, the discussion
and refinement of the ideas, and the implementation which is now used
on 10,000 websites" that can be quite compelling.

Design and OSS isn't without drawbacks. There are some
political/religious debates and baggage associated with the topic.
Some developers are not happy to get feedback on the UI of their
module. I suggest finding friendly souls in the community to help
support your involvement -
http://groups.drupal.org/interaction-designers-network is one area and
even more http://groups.drupal.org/usability

Best regards,
Greg

--
Greg Knaddison | 303-800-5623 | http://growingventuresolutions.com
Mastering Drupal - http://www.masteringdrupal.com

27 Jan 2010 - 2:58pm
uladzimir.palkh...
2010

Agree with all of the above. Without a proper motivation you will not
be able to put all of your efforts into something. In other words it
will be hard to do what you want without live project.

So, at first! Look for any kind of participation in real projects!

At second!
For education purpose I would recommend you to explore UX related
resources. For example you can look at
http://quince.infragistics.com/ to find some stuff in regards to UX
patterns.

Have a fun and good luck!

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=48685

28 Jan 2010 - 8:36am
Astley Le Jasper
2007

Hi everyone,

There are some great points here and I really appreciate the
feedback.

Yes, thinking about it, I'd agree that it could be quite tedious
deconstruct a website in it's entirety. I still think it might be
worth perhaps cherry picking some interesting solutions. Or even bad
solutions that could do with improving, like you suggested David.

I'll definitely check out some agencies and non-profit groups.
Actually Greg, I also think the OSS side of things could be really
good. (Although I have to confess that I am just starting to get to
grips with Django!)

The only other thing I was wondering about was if anyone knew of any
in-depth case studies. Ok, it's still reading, but it may also be a
half way house between the theory and actually doing. I found a few
in "Information Architecture for the World Wide Web". Does anyone
know of any others?

Cheers again

ALJ

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=48685

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