If you haven’t heard of Eric Miller, you will most definitely have seen his work with UX kits on social media? Eric has over 20 years experience under his belt including working with the large organisation, BMI.
Eric continues to share his own projects – like his recent website decks at UX Kits. We have been able to speak with Eric about how the UX industry has influenced his studio and the story behind the launch of UX Kits.
Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Eric Miller and I am the Founder of and designer for our studio and shop, UX Kits (Shop now). I’ve been working on web projects since the late ’90s and started professionally as a designer for BMI and as the writer of the graphic design section of about.com. Our 2-person studio was launched as a full-time venture in 2008 and UX Kits followed in 2013.
We know you started out as a designer/developer for Broadcast Music Inc, but how did your career develop into UX?
While user experience design was a practice during my time at BMI, I’ll admit it is not something I was familiar with and “UX” was not such a common phrase as it is now. In theory, I was practising some elements of the UX process without knowing it, but it wasn’t until I launched our studio that I truly educated myself on that process. Over time, our work shifted from designing only traditional websites to more complex, web-based applications. That work naturally required us to be more involved in the entire process including discovery, research, information architecture, journeys, wireframes, prototypes and visual design. As we took on more of that type of work, we included UX as one of our studio’s main focus areas.
How do you put your ideas together? What are your tools to create?
Our initial ideas for a product generally start with notes and lists. Before anything visual, I just jot down anything I can think of, which might be done alone or with a client. I use a thick MUJI notebook for these notes (I love MUJI). From there, I usually move to rough sketches of concepts. My current favourite notebook is the Behance Dot Grid Book though like many designers I have many sketchbooks in all shapes and sizes. My pencil of choice is the Pentel GraphGear 1000. When designing a physical product, like our UX Kits Wireframe Deck, I’ll make physical prototypes from post-its or just cut paper to the card size.
Once a concept has been proven on paper, I’ll create documents such as flowcharts and wireframes (if a website or app), usually in OmniGraffle or Sketch. Finally, Photoshop and Sketch are my go-to apps for polished design, and we create prototypes in InVision. I also use a Wacom tablet and an iPad with Paper and Pencil by FiftyThree for digital drawings. That’s doesn’t cover our full UX or design process, but those are our favourite tools for getting the job done.
So, tell us a little more about the story behind UX Kits? Where did this idea come from?
The first products for UX Kits came from documents we were creating for clients over and over. If our process was benefited from pre-built templates for documents like user flows, then it would help others too. In 2013 we launched our Website Flows. I saw that product quickly being incorporated into the workflow of many designers on places like Dribbble, and being shared on social (in the case of Pinterest, over 100,000 times). It was immediately clear that we could build a brand around this, not just a product.
We continued to build a small, thoughtful collection of digital products, along with our first physical product, the Website Deck. The Website Deck came from the idea that teams and clients benefit from physical, hands-on exercises, and most recently we continued that idea with the Wireframe Deck.
How did you test your ideas for this, were you using the Lean UX methodology?
Our ideas were really tested through real-world use with clients. Seeing how clients related to more visual products was our proof-of-concept. Lean and Agile methods certainly apply to our client work, but less so with UX Kits. We do interview some designers and share product concepts and revise those concepts based on that.
Can you share some examples or a video of how people are using the UX kits?
This Dribbble gallery has great examples of how designers use our digital UX Kits in their projects.
Thank you, Eric, for sharing your story with our audience at Together Incredible. Follow UX Kits on Instagram to keep up to date with Eric’s journey.
Get in touch if you would like to get featured and share your UX story.