Meet the UX Designer: Zachery Nielson
“It’s easy to mockup an idea but the real challenge is making that idea work well,” says Zachery Nielson. The Salt Lake City-based designer finds the sweet spot of appealing visuals that function like whoa as CEO of Shelby Company, the design and marketing creative agency he founded a few years ago. Achieving that balance is a forever quest for Nielson, fueled by some key creative follows on Twitter, a commitment to meaningful minimalism, and hip hop playlists to keep inspiration on high.
What drew you to UX/UI design, and how did you get your start?
I started when I was only ten years old. I was very interested in website design and building digital things, and it just so happened that my grandfather was a lifelong web developer. He taught me the basics, then eventually I moved on to teach myself UI design and put a heavy focus on minimal UX and interfaces for my web design. Building interfaces that people actually enjoy using is something that has driven me in my work.
How does Adobe Creative Cloud fit into your creative process?
I use most of the full Creative Cloud suite every single day–it’s absolutely essential to my work–and recently, Adobe XD has played a more significant role in my process. XD helps get my creativity flowing, and my sales have improved specifically because it’s so easy to create mockups for potential clients; within a few minutes I can show them exactly how good their new website can look, and then it’s so simple to actually design it. There is no other program that makes it so seamless.
Let’s look at one of your projects. What was your process creating this website mock-up for a beard oil company?
I made this mock-up for a potential client in a matter of minutes. He said he wanted to feature lots of images to help push society’s view of beards in the right direction–he works for a beard oil company–so I pulled this together to give him a sense of our style and services. He loved it, and now we’re working out the details to make it their official website. It shows what a remarkable asset XD has been, and how it can be a profitable tool as well!
What excites you most about the future of UX/UI design—both in terms of creating it, and engaging with it?
I feel like the future of UX and UI design is limitless. It’s exciting to think about how much our industry can and will change in the coming years as people touch screens less often, and use voice commands more often. Using tech may become more natural as we use our voices to do things on our phones, and as we perform pure visual interactions with VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality).
Creating user interfaces for virtual reality is completely different than creating it for a website; adapting and learning new ways to design things, beyond just a simple navigation menu, is very exciting.
What bit(s) of wisdom can you share with creative folks who are interested in becoming UX/UI designers?
If you are interested in becoming a UX/UI designer–or any type of designer, really–my number one piece of advice is to never stop learning and adapting. Technology changes rapidly. Talk to someone who was making websites in the 90s they’ll tell you how much design has changed already. Design moves forward constantly, and it’s always evolving; and you have to accept that, and evolve with it to be the best designer you can be.
Whose UX/UI work do you look at and go: “WOW”?
I have been following Tobias’ work for a few years and I have yet to see something I didn’t like. He loves to use dark colors, just like I do, so I love navigating through his UI. His design is always meaningful, which inspires me.
Flatstudio makes excellent websites. Their UI is top notch and always makes me want to stay on their sites as long as possible. There is always a certain flow and unique navigation element that makes me fall in love with their work.
Best tunes for getting into a creative flow?
I actually make my own playlists for designing and working, called Vision. I just released Vision Four which is full of hip hop that has a certain message and vibe to help me (and anyone) get inspired and motivated.
I follow a lot of designers on Twitter, and by far my top three would be: