Addressing a common question I get from design students.

Hello, Robbin here. I’m on the instructional design team at Designlab. I learned about UX there, became a product designer at Udemy, Yelp, and some smaller organizations. I also run group critiques for Designlab students, and the questions I inevitably get in every session are displayed in this weird poem format:

I feel like nothing is perfect in Squarespace! Argh!
Do I HAVE to use Squarespace?

Everyone keeps talking about Webflow.
Should I learn Webflow?

— Every design student ever (not really)

My reply is usually along these lines:

It is a massive learning curve if you don’t understand how…


Organization makes you good at finding things

Some of us just really, really, really like keeping bookmarks. There’s so many things I might read someday! Look at this cool picture! I need to save a recipe! And all the things I’ve bookmarked for my work projects…!

Before you know it, you’ve got more than you’d like to admit. Definitely more than, say, 15. (I don’t really know anyone who has only 15 bookmarks.)

I’ve had a few folks ask me how I keep my bookmarks organized, especially when I’m looking for inspiration or need to keep track of items related to a specific project. That, and I’m…


A Buzzfeed-style list of designers whose portfolios have gotten them the job

Working with Designlab as a group critique facilitator, I usually set aside some time at the end for general Q&A. At least once a month, the question of balancing a case study in one’s UX portfolio comes up, and for good reason: it’s hard. I ask students to give case studies a 30-second scan in this article (and in crit) to see if they can get to the end, and to figure out what they want to go back to…and…yeah, it’s hard.

Anyway, let’s get to it. I’m focusing on case studies that don’t rely heavily on super-beautiful visual and…


It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to explain the rules.

Last weekend, I was at Ragecon, a board game convention in Reno. On the drive back, my partner and I were talking about how much we liked the people who took the time to teach us how to play new games. It occurred to me that rule-explaining was extremely similar to performing in a design challenge. One needs to explain the goal of the game, talk about the constraints, and then give instruction on ways to achieve the goal. As a product designer who regularly meets with stakeholders to get approval for features, it felt like a solid parallel.

We…


And it never really ends

People have asked me a lot of things about my design career, but the usual ones are: how did you work full time while taking a full-time design course? And what was it like to transfer from a support associate to a product designer? I mean, let’s be real, y’all. I practice. A lot. I make time for it and then I make like Nike and just do it. Easier said than done, though.

Even though I’m fully entrenched in design work these days, I still make time to practice by running design critiques on the weekends with Designlab. For…


Twenty-four hours well-spent on Netflix

Season 3 of Queer Eye came out this weekend on Netflix, and as usual, it is Life Giving. My best friend introduced the show to me when I was still learning about UX design in…gosh, 2017 now? Time flies. I’ve since begun my profesh career in product design, and there is NOTHING better than being able to site such a joyful show with my personal design process.

Without further ado, here are four things that are excellent takeaways from emotion-inducing Queer Eye that I’m applying/continuing to apply to my every day design work.

They know how to tell a story

At the very beginning of every episode…


Or, my three holiday wishes as a designer

I’m writing from my dear friend’s house in Ludwigsburg, Germany this Christmas. This is the first year that I can say, “I’m a designer!” when people ask me during the holidays. (Okay, so I still can’t really explain it to people who are not familiar with the concept outside of Silicon Valley, but it seems to be enough to say, “I design websites and stuff”, even though that’s not necessarily true.) For whatever reason, humans enjoy good cheer and treating each other kindly during this month and the rest of the year is sort of hit or miss, so I…


Three months of learnings, post-Designlab, in the real world

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything, and it’s because I’ve been super busy with work. Lots of people have been asking how the job has been, and while that’s an important question, I am way more excited to talk about the stuff I’ve actually used in Designlab in my actual work. (Background: I was in the Ive Cohort of UXA back in December 2016, and now I work at Udemy as a product designer after an internal transfer.) This is because I’m operating under this saying:

Be the person you needed when you were younger.
— A quote…


Some time ago, I talked to some students from Designlab about design challenges and potential interview questions for the last few minutes of a group critique. In my opinion, it’s important to know stuff like this, especially if it’s a present for Future You, because then you can have a better understanding of what you’re learning and why you’re learning stuff in your curriculum. (And I really do hope to continue to see a rise in participation for those crits after sharing these!)

As usual, this details my own experiences, so results may vary.

This article is two-fold: the in-person…


The super short summary version, until I feel like publishing the super long version.

Ihave just signed and accepted the contract to move to the Product Design team at Udemy. This is probably the seventh draft of this article so far; I hadn’t posted it earlier when I passed my interview because the contract wasn’t there and I just didn’t want to risk anything, you know? I’m anxious, but I’m excited. I’d like to share my journey, and hope that it helps in some way. To the people who helped me, who taught me, who were patient with me: I’m thanking you here in the beginning and at the end and the spaces between.

Robbin Arcega

Product designer, puzzling over UX. Crocheting in between. Tea at all times.

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