Do complex digital interfaces and applications ever make you feel like you’re up against a fire breathing dragon? Well, that’s when your project is just begging for you to become a Ninja from the 15th century. Simply practicing your design techniques will allow you to level up to that fearless Ninja warrior we all seek to become.

Bamboo Stick Training

So you’re starting that new beast of a project and followed your standard workflow. You’ve created personas, completed a competitive analysis, and even made a killer moodboard using a few of your best photoshop tricks. Let’s be honest though – you just want to push some pixels and start delivering.

I get it. But you don’t want to waste time making something that will never see the light of day – that would be like heading into battle with a Kitana blade before you’ve had a chance to work out the kinks with a bamboo stick. My tried and true technique is a round or two of practice designs with my team and clients. A bit of practice goes a long way in establishing a rapport and gaining momentum.

The first time I tried this, I was pleasantly surprised at my clients’ reactions. They appreciated that I was trying different strategies, and feedback from those practice rounds led to a better understanding of the desired aesthetic. The preparation allowed us to confidently head into the real battle.

Abstract Design Allows For Open Dialogue and Quick Crucial Wins

Every client is passionate about their  how their brand is representing. Designing a hypothetical interface or landing page with their content and colors allows for transparent communication. Certain aspects of the design will be remembered and the areas that don’t work can be chalked up to good learning exercises. In this stage, you are able to beat each other up with candid feedback without slicing each other’s heads off. You not only start to see what the client is getting super excited about, but you also are fostering the Shangri-La of creative opportunity.

Two Is Better Than One

When you are practicing your design chops, it’s always a good idea to provide a couple options. It’s important to show a variety but not so many that it paralyzes your client’s ability to make decisions. In the example below, the sample UI kit was divided into two options: Version Spruce and Version Juniper. Spruce on the modern side and Juniper on the conservative side. This practice UI kit exercise propelled the project into a very confident and purpose driven project.


Practice Makes Perfect

The next time you’re beginning a new project, plan for some practice time in your timeline and make your first few deliverables brand-agnostic. It’s a great way to better understand each other’s communication styles and aesthetic before jumping into battle. Plus, you’ll feel like a kickass design Ninja. Which is obviously the goal. Obviously.