I often get asked by friends, family, and acquaintances for advice on where to look to learn about design (what I do for a living). Even though design education has been around in various forms for a long time, the topic areas are broad — think interior, fashion, graphic, or industrial — and digital interface design remains a relatively newer trade.
Technology has rapidly changed the way we build products and services, and more and more it seems like learning on the internet is outpacing traditional education and schooling on the subject. So with something that lacks common knowledge and education, and is known by some to be #1 most difficult job to explain to parents, where do I send people to learn about it?
Beats me. But in the mean time I figured it couldn’t hurt to share where I learn and try to stay fresh with what’s going on in the fast-paced industry of design. Hope you enjoy this random scattering of links, books, videos, and quotes.
Last updated: Dec 23, 2020
News, Updates, and Inspiration
- Twitter— my main source for design news. I follow these people
- Dribbble — visit daily for visual inspiration
- Sidebar.io— best aggregation / summary of top 5 articles per day
- Design Details Podcast — I also listen to many other podcasts
- designernews.co — I prefer sidebar, but good for if I miss anything there
- producthunt.com — new products / inspiration
- Dieter Rams 10 Principles for Good Design — timeless design principles
- refactoringui.com/ — great collection of UI tips. The tweet list is great, too.
- A Design 101 presentation I give to all new Figma employees in partnership with brand.
- UI Gradient — nice instagram feed of tips, especially for new designers
- lawsofux.com/ — handy list of UX principles
- Design Dictionary — for lingo and terminology
- reallygoodemails.com — for email inspiration
- pttrns.com — for pattern inspiration
- Shift Nudge — great new online interface design class (nice twitter, too)
- DesignOps.lol — helpful content on design ops / systems
- Tech companies with design pages: Design.google — for material design, and google fonts. Airbnb Design for thoughts on the future of design and some case studies. Facebook Design Resources for device frames.
- Facebook communities: Designer Lounge, Designer Guild
Writing and thought leadership
- Julie Zhuo on design leadership
- Hunter Walk on product management
- Claire Lew on leadership
- Marcin Wichary on design and anthropology
- Brett Victor on visual programming
- Zander Whitehurst on resources for new designers entering the industry
- Design of Everyday Things — famous for explaining usability with lots of great practical real world examples
- Don’t Make Me Think — classic for web design
- One Minute Manager — on delegating well
- Radical Candor— on giving feedback
- Universal Principles of Design — great guide to keep around
- 100 Things Every Designer needs to know about people — on psychology
- Thoughtless Acts?: Observations on Intuitive Design — just a fun one
- Steal Like an Artist — nothing is original
- Thinking with Type — great for typography basics
- Visual Display of Quantitative Information — Tufte classic
- More management books here and in 3 tools for design managers
Documentaries and videos
- Objectified, Helvetica, Urbanized, and probably any future Hustwit films
- IDEO shopping cart video — the masters of the design process
- Netflix’s Abstract Series — fun and covers a wide range of topics
- High resolution video series— 25 interviews with product designers
- The business value of design — McKinsey — good article for justifying value
- Design In Tech Report — Yearly KP design in tech report
- “Case Study Factory” — great tips on how to share portfolio work online
Recruiting and hiring
On the role of UX Designers
Engineers with reduced empathizing skills, Hudson’s paper continues, design for themselves. Left unchecked, they can cause great mischief by designing software no one but they can use. Quick to code and easy to learn, but only if you were the one who coded it … Engineering, even genius engineering (and Woz was and is second to none), must be balanced with equally talented design.
Graphic designers, left unchecked and unschooled, are likely to aim for maximum visual simplicity at the expense of both learnability and usability. Such interfaces require users to discover new capabilities by clicking around and seeing what happens. Users don’t do that. In the most extreme cases, functionality desperately needed by the majority of users may actually be removed from products in the effort to generate visual simplicity.
Both these professions need to be offset by a third:
Behavioral designers, a. k. a., human-computer interaction (HCI) designers. It could be expected that HCI designers would also run amok without engineers and graphic designers to moderate their behavior. So far, HCI designers have never experienced that situation.
The three professions, working together, with a healthy tension among them, produce good software and good products. That balance of power is critical to success.
– Bruce Tog on AskTog.com
You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.
It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.
Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.
– Various great Steve Jobs quotes… they always hold up ;-)
Good design, when it’s done well, becomes invisible. It’s only when it’s done poorly that we notice it.
– Jared Spool on experience design
People don’t want something truly new, they want something familiar done differently.
– Nir Eyal on one of my favorite paradoxes of design
The way you reconcile all the challenges of doing your job managing people is you care for them as best as you can.
And you know that in that relationship they probably won’t remember the things you think they’ll remember and they’ll be traumatized by the things you didn’t mean.
You have to adopt a perspective of care otherwise you couldn’t reconcile it in your own head (unless your a psychopath, which… you know.. is one valid star…)
– Charlie Sutton on Design Details Episode 255
Technology problems are easy. People Problems are Hard.
– Probably lots of people, but heard first from Urz Hölzle at Google.
Constantly pushing to make things better is hard. Most people settle for good enough. Going further is too much work. If you find someone that cares enough to keep pushing, make sure you are the voice that encourages them and not the one that holds them back.
Adding to this: Learning how to keep pushing for improvement without upsetting everyone is one of the rarest talents. It’s easy to complain things aren’t better. Much harder to see the path forward to making it better and inspire other people along the way.
– Halli & Ben Fry from this tweet thread
What did I miss?
I’m sure this isn’t even close to exhaustive, but it’s what comes top of mind for now. What do you usually share with people when they ask you for design resources, articles, books, or videos?