How I End Up Being an Independent User Interface / User Experience Designer After Finishing Business School

Daniel Korpai is an independent User Interface / User Experience designer with an educational background in international business and marketing psychology. Daniel is passionate about building & designing products, which are easy-to-use and helps to grow your business even further. He also loves documenting his journey and sharing it with the community to help others succeed.

How was your university time?

First of all, thank you so much for including me on your site to share my journey, it’s awesome to be here. 🙂 I studied International Business at the university in Budapest, Hungary and also Marketing Psychology in the Netherlands. When I started studying at the university I had no clue what I want to be and what type of work I want to do after graduating. Since the International Business Program was a mixture of finance, marketing, management, logistics, negotiation skills training and accounting, I had the privilege to try out a lot of different fields and see which one I was interested in. Amongst these fields marketing was the closest to me, so I continued learning more about the psychology of marketing to have a better understand why certain marketing techniques work and how to improve them. At this point, I had no idea about my future work so I tried to learn as much as possible and connect the dots between various fields.

How did you end up being a product designer?

I’ve been always passionate about technology. I remember as a kid I had an urge to try out every single mobile phone and PDA (who can remember those, right?) when I visited a consumer electronics retailer with my parents. Since then I’ve realized that because I grew up in an era when touchscreens started to become popular and broadband internet connections became widespread, as a child I’ve learned a lot of things about user interfaces and how to create better user experiences. I’ve been also a huge Apple fan since the days when I had to explain Apple to my friends as the company who makes the iPod. (iPhone was launched 3 years after I started using my first MacBook.)

When I studied at the university I was passionate about iOS apps so I joined the biggest Hungarian Apple blog (with more than 20,000 daily readers) to write reviews about iOS applications. During a year I wrote more than 300 iOS app reviews and worked with developers to help them create better apps. When I realized I was complaining a lot because of the way most of the app looked, I figured maybe I could do it better. So instead of complaining I started designing myself and solve design problems I noticed during my reviews. This was the moment when I was so invested in the design world that I knew there is no turning back.

Why did you learn how to code?

After designing for a while, I realized that all I was doing is making pretty images, which are useless by themselves if no one executes them. It’s like trying to live in a blueprint instead of an actual house. When I finished designing one of my side projects instead of waiting for one of my developer friends I started to learn how to create my first HTML file and how to link a CSS file to it to change the way it looks. I was so amazed by the fact that I can create actual websites instead of images that looked and worked exactly how I wanted that I canceled all my festivals and stayed home for the summer. I started with HTML, CSS, then added SCSS and PHP to the mix, then learned about Git, preprocessors like Grunt, Gulp, Codekit, then jQeury, JS, Angular JS and also a little bit of back-end to learn how to setup my own DigitalOcean server.

Things are changing very fast in the industry, how do you keep yourself updated?

I dedicate at least 1-2 hours a day to keep myself up-to-date. I have a few selected newsletters I read daily as well as Medium publications and Dribbble accounts I follow regularly. Also, I keep in touch with designers on Instagram, Twitter and I’m part of a dozen design focused Facebook groups.

Design newsletters I’m subscribed to:

  • http://sidebar.io
  • https://heydesigner.com
  • http://www.verse-co.com
  • https://framer.com/blog/

Blogs I follow:

  • https://medium.muz.li
  • https://uxdesign.cc
  • https://medium.com/sketch-app-sources
  • https://bjango.com/articles/
  • https://ia.net/topics

Designers I follow on Dribbble:

https://dribbble.com/danielkorpai/following

How do you keep yourself motivated?

I do believe motivation is overrated and I prefer creating routines. I try to workout (running, HIIT, weightlifting) at least 4 times a week, follow a healthy diet, get enough sleep, have enough time to relax (being with family, friends, reading, watching TV shows) and when all these details are in place I can be super effective and productive at work, which will be rewarded by the feeling of motivation.When choosing projects I always try to choose the ones I’m interested in and passionate about, even if it pays less, because in the long run, these are the projects where I’m willing to put in the extra work and truly go beyond expectations, which will result in more work opportunities.

Advice for someone just starting on this path

Don’t be afraid to fail. You’ll fail probably dozen times until you find a working and great solution. Try to be sure that what you’re building and working on is meaningful, because this will help you push through the hard parts and give you meaning during the struggle. If you think what you’re building is unnecessary, useless and pointless, you’ll fail after the first try when things go wrong. Keep going and learning. You don’t have to learn everything in one day, but you do have to learn every day to be better and improve as a designer.

Where can others find you?

I’m always happy to chat with everyone who reaches out.

You can find me on:

  • Twitter – https://twitter.com/danielkorpai
  • Dribbble – https://dribbble.com/danielkorpai
  • Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/danielkorpai/
  • You can read more of my design articles and monthly design reports here: https://medium.com/@danielkorpai
  • You can download my free design resources here: https://gumroad.com/danielkorpai

Thank you again for having me here and have an awesome day! 🙂

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