Where and how to study as a designer
When I started working as a ux designer (I was retraining from a programmer) there was nowhere to study. For the entire post-Soviet space, there was one Lebedev studio, his own “manhood” blog and several translated books. Now the problem is different – the amount of information on each topic is almost endless: books, blogs, articles, videos, conferences, master classes, films, schools, online courses, and it is not clear how to choose the right one from all this stream and where to start.
The good news is that none of this is important and is not necessary for the designer at the initial stage. The designer needs …
In most cases, a novice designer (and possibly not only him) needs a minimum amount of theoretical knowledge, average knowledge of the tool and practice. The designer needs some time to “learn by hand”.
In areas of activity with a high level of competition, success can be achieved if you have a slightly more efficient technique than your competitors. People climb to the very top not because of the knowledge of secret techniques, but rather thanks to the perfect mastery of their basic set. Depth always conquers breadth as it opens the way for the intangible, unconscious, creative components of our latent potential. – “The Art of Learning” by Josh Weitzkin
Practice, analysis of mistakes, search for information in order to correct them and practice again. The ideal practice is under the guidance of a mentor – he will give the necessary amount of knowledge, send to practice, and then mirror and point out mistakes. But even if there is no mentor, it doesn t matter, just start doing and look for only the information that you need for the next step. And let your friends and clients mirror.
Don t believe me? – OK. How then were the pyramids and medieval cathedrals built?
As follows from the work of a specialist in medieval science, Guy Bojuan, until the 13th century, no more than five people in Europe knew how to divide one number by another. No shmeorem theorems for you. At the same time, the builders somehow calculated the resistance of materials, which we now calculate using equations, and ancient buildings for the most part are still standing. The 13th century French architect Villars de Honnecourt left behind a series of drawings and notebooks in Picard (the language of the French Picardy region) on how to build cathedrals using experimental heuristics, little tricks and rules, later systematized by Flibert Delorme in treatises on architecture. Let s say a triangle is drawn like a horse s head. Experiments, not theories, make people prudent. – Nasim Taleb “Antifragility”
Advice for a novice designer
I don t have a specialized education, I learned about Nielsen s heuristics two years ago, I still haven t read Tufty, I am “swimming” in art history and design history, I don t know Photoshop well, I can t animate interfaces and … I do my job well.
Therefore, go to modern design schools (for example, here or here), do training projects under the guidance of mentors and look for work to quickly move on to real projects…Online schools are fine too – the main thing is to do projects and get feedback.
When I asked my mother why I needed to study at the university, she always answered that the main thing that they would teach me there was to work with literature. But apparently I was a bad student, because I learned to work with literature quite recently.
The main problem was that I was reading, just to read.
A signal that cannot be converted into information is a slag.
Information not leading to action – slag.
Actions that do not lead to change are a waste of time.
– Armen Petrosyan.
How a designer can learn from books.
1. Set a task
Determine what you want to learn.
For example, break books down into several topics:
- Designer Design – Books that can help me improve, give me direction, new exercises, or a new perspective.
- Human design – neurophysiology, neuroaesthetics, anything that will help you understand human nature and connect it with design and practice.
- Philosophy and history of design – confirm or refute your thoughts, find material for lectures and articles.
- New perspective – new knowledge, new picture of the world. Technology, future, science, history, politics, philosophy.
There is no fiction here – this is entertainment for the designer, like films and TV shows.
2. Select books
Further, for each book that you want to start reading, you need to write “shob sho”, you will read it, who recommended it to you and why you fell for it, for example:
3. Active reading
Mark the necessary fragments and write down the thoughts that arise along the way.
Rita Carter “How the Brain Works”
4. Throw a book if it doesn t fit
If you do not find in the book what you started reading it for – drop it and move on to the next one. There are many books, little time – you are not reading it for fun. And if for fun – then just get high)
After reading, make a summary, broken down into subtopics, for example:
– New knowledge
– What can be applied
The only downside to this approach, aside from making your friends think you re a nerd, is that reading slows down a lot.
Advice for a novice designer
Higher education for a designer is not about knowledge, but about social lifts and connections for the future. Therefore, if you study at a university, then in the country where you are going to continue to live and work.
If you are a beginner designer – do not go to state universities, you will waste time – there are practically no people who can teach you and the biggest problem is, there are no interesting educational projects and there is no community, which will then help you find an interesting job.
Videos and podcasts
It s easy to learn new software with video – I looked and immediately tried it, with theoretical knowledge a little worse – the same system works as with books, but it s not always convenient to take screenshots of the necessary moments and comes out slower, since you adjust to the style and pace of the lecturer.
With podcasts, the same problem, it takes a lot of time, it is inconvenient to write down thoughts and mark the moments you like. But … you can learn English through podcasts.
It all started when I watched this TED video:
The main point – when learning a new language, you need to build a system that will bring you pleasure. For example, you can start reading Harry Potter in English with a dictionary (if of course you love him) and your love for Harry will carry you through all the difficulties and help you learn the language or you can start watching Friends in German – at first you will not understand hell, but in six months you will already be laughing at their jokes.
In short, I got inspired and decided to build my own system – I started using 50 minutes that I spend in the car in the morning and 40 minutes that I spend there in the evening. In the morning I listened to podcasts with reviews of the games of the British Premier League, and a few months later I caught myself laughing at the jokes of the British hosts. And in the evening he began to talk to himself in English, telling an invisible interlocutor what had happened during the day or simply talking aloud on an interesting topic. From the outside it looks wild, but it works – it is easier to maintain a conversation in English every time. In short, I recommend ?
Podcasts for Designers in English:
- 99 invisible
- Obsessed show
- Design Matters with Debbie Millman
- Freakonomics Radio
The latter is not about design, but still cool)
It s hard to really learn at conferences …
Firstly, many lectures at public conferences are self-pr, diluted with banal messages. Here we are cool, we do cool things, and our secret is simple – have fun, work hard and plz .. no drama. When you hear it for the first time it sounds very cool, when the second and third time it’s ok, it’s a manifesto, but when you hear it year after year it starts to get a little annoying. Hey, what is essentially, what do you think, how did you come to this, what is your methodology, what is your kung fu?
Illustration – Ian Stevenson
Secondly, you have already guessed for a long time that the silver bullet does not exist, but there is a lot of work and luck.
But you still walk / ride / fly, because you need inspiration and a party (and your ego needs a flick) and because sometimes you come across a master whose projects you like, and, lo and behold, he does not show off, does not preach, does not speaks platitudes, but sincerely share experiences, and this sincerity captivates you, turns off your skeptic and allows you to take something for yourself.
There is a difference between “knowing something” and “knowing the name of something” and in order to check what you really know, there is a very cool way – you need to try to teach it to others. I often use this, preparing a lecture or writing a post helps to deal with the topic myself.
Richard Feynman s method
Take a blank sheet of paper and write down what you want to study. Write down what you know about the subject, as if you were explaining it to a child. Not your smart adult buddy, but an eight-year-old who has enough vocabulary and concentration to understand basic concepts and relationships.
A lot of people tend to use complex words and professional jargon when they don t understand something. The problem is that we are fooling ourselves because we don’t realize what we don’t understand. The use of jargon is intended to hide our misunderstanding from others.
When you write down an idea from start to finish in simple words that a child can understand (use only the most common words), you help yourself understand its essence on a deeper level and simplify the relationships and connections between concepts. If you put in the effort, you can clearly see where your gaps are. And this is good, it indicates an opportunity to learn.
How to learn to design:
– Practice, practice and a little more practice.
– Informed choice and deliberate reading and watching videos.
– Podcasts – for language learning.
– Conferences – for inspiration.
– And teaching others;)