Meet London–based Designer of the Week Balraj Chana, who specializes in UI/UX design and has worked alongside many visionaries, from startup founders to Googlers. Read on to learn more about this product designer’s favorite side project, sources of inspiration and advice to fellow designers.
Name: Balraj Chana
Name of Studio: CircularChaos
Location: London, UK
Design school attended: Brunel University
How would you describe your work?
As a product designer, in terms of style I tend to deviate from the norm and enjoy experimenting with and combining various design languages whether it be from a company that I admire or an independent designer. I employ an adaptable style that incorporates a clean layout, bold colors, vivid typography and minimalism.
I primarily focus on the product design cycle so I help clients turn their ideas written on a napkin into a usable product. Exploring ideas from user stories and transforming wireframes into interactive prototypes/mockups is part of my process. Applying this approach helps me to communicate my ideas to the user who can either be a client, engineer or end-user.
Where do you find inspiration?
For me personally, being inspired doesn’t necessarily mean scouting inspiration sites all day. It’s hard to gauge the context from a few images so I try to take a step back from the screen once in a while and discover the beauty in life experiences.
Picking the brains of designers whom I admire is another way I enjoy staying inspired. Specifically for UI design, I proactively stay in the loop by visiting sites such as Dribbble, Muzli & Behance and reading blogs from design-centric companies on Medium. I also keep an eye out for new and upcoming apps with the help of recommendations from my friends.
Who are some of your favorite designers or artists?
It wasn’t easy to narrow it down as there as so many talented designers with different styles and approaches to solving problems. My personal favourites are designers who are not afraid to step into unfamiliar territory and try something new.
Do you have a favorite among all the projects you’ve worked on?
I enjoy pushing the boundaries of what I can achieve and I’m always trying to learn new skills and techniques. If I had to choose one, my personal favorite would be the SpaceInFramers interactive prototype.
The side project was quite challenging for me as I had to combine my skills in both design and code. I wanted to learn more about prototyping to help communicate my ideas to clients more efficiently, rather than just relying on a static mockup. By making a game, it would provide me with a great opportunity to strengthen my toolset by combining UI, UX, interaction, animation and code all into one single prototype. Creating a prototype that people can interact [with] whilst learning new skills at the same time was a fun personal challenge for me.
[Want to see more designer side projects? Take a look at 6 Side Projects Turned Popular Tools for Designers, Part 1.]
Is there a project that stands out to you as having been the biggest challenge of your career so far?
Sure, the projects [that] I find most challenging are the ones [that] test my skills within different segments of the design spectrum.
I’ve been working with the Lystable team as a product designer to help revamp their core enterprise product. I’ve cycled through the entire design process and provided solutions to problems in the form of user flows, wireframes, mockups, prototypes, animations, illustrations and branding. My strengths lie in UI design so it’s been a great learning curve consisting of dabbling with motion in AE to creating interactive prototypes for the engineers. It’s been a great team effort collaborating with the founder, engineers and designers.
What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
I want to make a larger impact on the lives of people by creating useful and functional products. I try to enjoy the present and focus on happiness first. So whether I end up creating my own startup or working for a company who values design is something that I would like to explore further in the near future.
What’s your best advice for designers today?
There are no shortcuts to learning design, you have to put in the hours and focus on solving problems first and foremost. Don’t design in a vacuum and remember to take a step back once in a while to look at the big picture. Let your voice be heard if you believe that there is a better way of doing something. It takes years to acquire taste and most importantly, communication is a designer’s most valuable tool.
Many creatives, whether they are designers, photographers or writers, often find themselves stressed with the need to find enough clients to support their income. By learning about how to creative passive income streams for themselves, they can take advantage of their intellectual property and talent in a whole new way. This extra revenue can help reduce the stress of client work and create new opportunities.