Whether you’re designing a small portfolio site or working on massive enterprise systems, usability should be at the forefront of your design.
Luckily, some phenomenal resources are available to designers who want to enhance their usability skills and perfect their UI and UX design approaches.
Before diving into the best resources, the following sections will briefly define these topics. UI and UX are not interchangeable, despite how many use the terminology.
What Is Bleeding-Edge Web Design?
Bleeding-edge refers to designs and ideas that are cutting-edge. Ideas push the boundaries of normal to find new ways to present things.
Great examples of bleeding-edge designs are interactive landing pages and 3D renderings to make the digital experience more tangible and memorable for users.
What Is UI?
UI stands for user interface, which centers more on aesthetics and the attractiveness of a product or service based on its digital presence.
UI focuses on visual touchpoints that allow users to interact with the product and understand it through typography, color palettes, buttons, animations, videos, and images.
The user interface should be enticing and easy to digest, as colors and digital functions can lure consumers toward the product or service by creating interest and emotion via UI.
What Is UX?
UX is the user experience associated with the product or service from start to finish, including the actual use and implementation of the product or service. UX goes far beyond UI and aesthetics, encapsulating the product’s functionality and not just the aesthetics.
UX encompasses both the digital and physical aspects of a product and how the user interacts with it to eliminate pain points.
Best Resources for Learning Bleeding-Edge Web, UI, and UX Design
A site may have excellent UI, but horrendous UX design, if the site is attractive but challenging to navigate. A website with stellar UX will be easy to use, but not very visually exciting or pleasing. To learn how to combine these with bleeding-edge design, so you can harness your creativity and ingenuity, consider the plethora of fantastic resources below.
When looking for resources, an easy place to start is with reputable books on the topic. Steve Krug has a firm handle on what it means to successfully combine UI and UX with innovation.
The book goes in-depth to help designers and developers understand that usability is not the enemy of creativity; they work in tandem to foster an idyllic user experience and aesthetic.
Krug explains how you can navigate these design aspects, but also helps people learn how to cater to the user, their clients, and their boss all at once.
Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things by Don Norman
Another book for learning UX design is this one by Don Norman. Norman dives into how designers may see things from one perspective, but they need to step into the user’s shoes and look at their designs with fresh eyes.
He explains how design needs to account for visceral, and sometimes unexplainable, reactions humans have. For Norman, it’s all about human-centered design without sacrificing delightful aesthetics and fun visuals.
User Interface Design for Programmers by Joel Spolsky
Designers aren’t the only ones who worry about UI and UX when doing their job. If you’re a programmer, you can learn about UI and UX design from a programmer’s perspective with Joel Spolsky’s book.
Spolsky’s narrative is very to-the-point, outlining simple but logical rules that programmers, and designers, can follow to ensure usability along with artistic elements.
While this isn’t ‘UX Design For Dummies’, Spolsky makes it incredibly easy to grasp the usability concepts that can escape some people. And he practices what he preaches in the sense that the book is easy to read and digest.
If you want a more hands-on learning method than reading a book, you can take an online class about UX design. Some of the classes offered by Boulder Digital Arts are live, while others are recordings you can access at any time.
One of the best courses for someone who wants to understand UX design better and how to incorporate it into UI is Introduction to User-Centered Design.
Taking a class is one of the best ways to hone your UX and UI design skills, as you’ll receive assignments and be able to practice your skills and get constructive feedback.
Another option for online learning is Designlab. Designlab works like a school but takes a more one-on-one learning approach, so every student has a design mentor to help them with specific problems or questions they may encounter.
Designlab itself is bleeding-edge, experimenting with how students learn, so they offer a flexible experience that works better for many individuals than traditional classes.
Their UX Academy also strictly focuses on meshing UI and UX together in strategic ways, giving students a firm grasp on what usability means and how important it is.
UX Mastery is a massive resource offering dozens of design classes, some of which focus on UX and UI design. Many classes take a research approach, analyzing what makes some usable and trying to develop a formula for UX and UI designs.
Best of all, these classes are super affordable, costing less than $20 a month. You get to learn from UX experts, or as they call them UXperts.
Some courses even dive into the psychology behind UI and UX design, helping students understand the human nature that influences UI and UX in design.
Treehouse is the best place for someone who wants a comprehensive design learning experience rather than just learning about UX and UI.
Treehouse offers tracks, which are a series of courses that intertwine to give you a comprehensive understanding of design, bleeding-edge, UI, and UX. These guided curriculums cover everything you need to master a subject.
You also have the option to create custom curriculums, so you can skip courses that you don’t feel you need to take based on your foundational knowledge.
Want a quick and rigorous learning experience? The Flat Iron design boot camp offers fast 15-week courses that will teach you the ins and outs of UI and UX design so you can get hired immediately.
Flat Iron constantly updates its courses to reflect bleeding-edge techniques, so you know you’re always learning the most up-to-date information and design methods.
All the design courses focus on UX and UI design, ensuring that everything you learn goes hand in hand with usability, so you can execute artistic visions without creating a poor user experience.
For a free UI and UX resource, you can turn to UX Mag. Experts and professional designers post articles about usability and other aspects of design that can be extremely helpful for people looking to learn.
The articles often break down complex ideas, making them simple to comprehend and implement. The magazine is constantly updated, so there is no shortage of material to go through.
Many articles discuss what lies ahead for UX design, which will keep you on the cutting edge of new ideas and techniques. It’s also a magnificent resource for inspiration and examples of excellent UI and UX.
Another wonderfully free resource for bleeding-edge web, UI, and UX design is this eBook library with more than 80 titles on design and usability.
Many of the free books focus on current trends of the future of UI and UX design, so you can stay on top of what is new in bleeding-edge web design. Along with UI and UX design, you can learn more about the ins and outs of design in the other eBooks that cover a wide variety of design topics.
While classes, books, and other resources are helpful while learning about bleeding-edge, UI, and UX design, it always helps to see good practices in action. Below are three websites that score and rank different website designs and usability.
Not every site has to follow a cookie-cutter design for successful usability, and the many sites on these pages showcase the different avenues you can take to achieve phenomenal UI and UX.
Browse through these sites and look at the winners and honorable mentions to get a feel for what usable and effective website design looks like.
From fashion to festivals to vacation destinations to website development, all of the sites below have excellent UI and UX, exemplifying how innovative website designs can be engaging and still simple to navigate and digest.
If you want to check out some stellar examples of imaginative and fun website design, some of the most modern examples are below.
You can read all the books and take all the courses you want on UX, but you have to create something and invite people to use it to understand what usability is all about.
While all these resources are a brilliant jumping-off point, don’t be afraid to create, even if it fails, it will teach you tenfold.