Housekeeping: Coffee Notepad soft relaunch

After an unintentional hiatus, Coffee Notepad is back! I’m not going to get into the details of why I was gone because they’re not that interesting, but I’ve rededicated myself to getting this thing going. During the time while life was getting in the way of me working on this site (and UX stuff in general), I had the chance to re-evaluate what I want to do here. I decided there are two main things I want to do with this site:

  • Document my journey learning about UX
  • Build my portfolio so that someone will hire me

Pretty much everything on this site going forward will be with the intent of one or both of those things. I hope to keep housekeeping posts like this to a minimum.

Fortunately, I should not be short of material in either realm. I’ve returned to the Skillcrush well for their Visual Designer Blueprint, and I’ll be discussing my experiences with that here.

Part of my re-evaluation process included an assessment of my skills and where I can improve, and visual design is, as a middle-management type might say, an “opportunity for improvement.” I can select decent templates and tweak them a bit, but when it comes to creating designs on my own from scratch, I’m…a bit less competent.

A few years ago, I might have taken that as a sign that this area just wasn’t for me. But both reading and experience have changed my mind on this subject. For example, Mindset by Carol Dweck suggests that ideas like talent are much more malleable and less innate than previously thought.

I’ve found some of this in my experience as well. Now it’s unlikely that I’ll become world-class at a particular thing without any innate ability, but it turns out there’s probably a lot of room for flexibility in between the extremes. As I’ve previously mentioned here, I partially owe the existence of this site to my frustration with early WYSIWYG editors, leading me to learn HTML on my own in the 1990s. So there was a time when I didn’t know anything about setting up web pages, much less full-blown sites. But I was determined to learn, so I was willing to work through that initial frustration.

So I’m going to take the opportunity to improve my visual design skills, and I’ll document the experience here. One thing I like about the course that from the beginning they demonstrate concern about more than just the visuals. Things like colors and fonts should probably be among the last choices made in the design process. Examples of questions to consider before the visual elements include:

  • Who is the target audience for this site?
  • What are the most important tasks that site visitors want to accomplish?

If a website looks pretty but doesn’t have definitive answers to those questions, chances are the UX won’t be very good. So I’m glad the course is addressing those issues as well as the visual components.

I look forward to learning and improving my visual design skills, as well as sharing my experiences with you. If there’s a particular topic you’d like me to address in this area, just let me know!

What do you think are the most important questions to answer when designing a website? Share them in the comments!

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