How to Learn Designing

On May 15, 2013

If you are a non-designer, like me, and want to learn designing, the first thing to do is to come out of your existing mindset.

It means if you are a programmer, stop thinking designing in terms of programming. Take a break from programming and try to think about designing with a fresh approach.

When you start to learn designing, keep an open mind. Think like a beginner and ask yourself the most basic questions. Leave room for all possibilities, and be open to learning.

I say this because it's easy to fall into the trap of interpreting designing with the knowledge you already have. While this may be a good way, but it can prove harmful if you think about designing only in a limited way.

So, if you think of designing as you think of programming, you may not get it exactly right. You'll still create things that are designed perfectly for programmers, but not for general consumers. That's why the need for a fresh approach.

If you want to learn designing, the only thing you need is a desire to learn. That's all. Once you have the strong urge to learn designing, you'll read articles, books, and watch videos on designing. And if you have this strong desire to learn designing, you'll learn it at quick pace.

And it doesn't take much time to understand designing. Trust me, just a few days are enough to know what designing really means. And you can learn the basics of designing within a few weeks. You may learn it even before that, but I recommend you to spend some time learning the basics, rather than just superficially understanding the concepts.

The best way to learn designing is to use your own mind, and read the best book written on designing. And for me that book is “The Design of Everyday Things” by Donald Norman. Read it and you'll know what designing means.

It explains designing in a very simple, easy-to-understand way with examples of real life objects. So you can relate to them easily, and work out what a good design does to everyday objects.

This was the first book that I read on designing, and the lessons I have learned from it are priceless. I realized what designing means, and how my mentality about designing was completely wrong.

Learning designing is more about a mindset issue, than about a time or resources issue. All the information that you need to be a good designer is available freely on web, or in form of affordable and excellent books.

If you want to learn designing, at least the simple basics, there is no reason to delay it. You only get better with time, and that's why it's a great advantage to start as early as you can. All it takes is few hours of dedication every day, for a month, towards learning designing.

I know this because I knew nothing about designing when I started out. But just after reading few articles and books, I understood how to create good design for your apps. And if I can do this on my own, I know everybody else can.

Sometimes, we mistake designing for the artwork that we use in our applications. As non-designers, we think that everything that deals with the looks comes under designing. That's not true. You can be a good designer even without being good at drawing things. Though most designers I see, are also good at drawing art. But that's not an issue.

Everyone can learn designing, anyone who says you can't, probably isn't worth listening to anymore. Don't wait for the perfect time to start learning it. Just pick up a book or do some searching, and you will surely learn something.

Want more? I have included some good links below this post. But before that a small advice:

When you try to learn designing online there are tons of resources; some are really good while some just don't teach anything useful. Try to limit yourself to one or two sources while learning.

Read one book at a time, read one article at a time. Read things thoroughly, don't just skim it. Take your time and reflect on things you have learned.

Don't try to learn everything in one day. And most importantly, use your own mind and question yourself repeatedly on what you just learned about designing. Never apply anything blindly, if it doesn't matches with your own thinking.

Understanding designing isn't difficult, what's difficult is creating a good one.

Some of my articles on designing:

Other great websites and articles:

Other notable books:

And if you need some inspiration to get started? Here's one:

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