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Becoming a Better Designer

By Wouter de Bres


Here I will post all articles that helped me to become a better designer. Feel free to suggest articles @wdeb

Wouter de Bres — Designer • Co-founder Gibbon • Psychologist

Added by Wouter de Bres: “Let's start this learning flow with the lesson that it doesn't make you a better designer to act, dress and talk like the stereotype designer. Just do great work and care about your users.

1 That Turtleneck is Choking You

Let's get something out of the way, this article isn't about Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs was a mastermind, visionary, or, in the words of Cards Against Humanity, a "Mother Fucking Sorcerer." No one would dare call Jobs a fake. This article is about YOU and the ways you're killing your career by pretending to be a designer. If you want

Added by Wouter de Bres: “Go for "Of Course" instead of "wow".

2 "Of Course" Design

"Of Course" DesignWhen people try to design magical interfaces, they're often aspiring for the "wow" moment, but that's the wrong focus. Designers should instead be focusing on "of course" moments, as in "of course it works like that." Most product design should be so obvious it elicits no response. The problem with aiming for "wow" is when you try to

Added by Wouter de Bres: “Simplify your interface and don't be scared to make it boring. Boringly simple.

3 Dare to be Boring

Rechner by Berger & Föhr, the app that converted me to "fLAT DESIGN."Dare to be BoringIs flat design just a fad or is it progress? I've typed and deleted many words since the flat trend began in the design community. Many of those words have been said, (lots of times) but they are in some cases relevant to my own

4 So you think you're not good enough?

Are you one of the people who are afraid of showing their work to others? Is everything constantly not good enough? Nobody would ever think about hiring you, because everyone else is a lot better than you are? Wait, somebody hired you? They sure must have made a mistake, you think? Yeah. You're a lovable idiot. No offense, I have

5 The Grumpy Designer Syndrome

Wouter de Bres on May 15, 2013 Yes, I have it. I realize it every time when we are about to launch something new. I look at my own design and Instead of being proud that we came this far and that we pushed forward to launch fast, I feel terrible, gutted even, that the design I created is just

6 How we design at Intercom

"...great designers are dogged in understanding the problem they are dealing with. Their curiosity and tenacity for understanding doesn't end..." Here within the product team at Intercom we've been sharing a fantastic post by Mills Baker about the state of design within the technology industry. Mills posits that design led organisations and teams are often not delivering results because they

7 Joshua Sortino - 14 Things Learned Designing at Disqus

A few weeks ago I worked my last day at Disqus, the number one commenting system on the internet. My time with the company was the most exciting and educational two years of my career. I never thought it was possible to learn so much about something so seemingly simple as comments. Disqus is now used on millions of websites

9 Making Good Design Decisions

There's a popular misconception that NASA spent millions in a failed attempt to create a space pen while the Russians just used pencils. The implication is that good design is simple in the sense that it is simplistic or obvious. Simple design is often simple for the user but complicated for the creator. They really do use pens in space.

10 Letter to a Junior Designer

I admit it: you intimidate me. Your work is vivid and imaginative, far superior to my woeful scratchings at a similar age. The things I struggle to learn barely make you sweat. One day, you'll be a better designer than me. But for now, I can cling to my sole advantage, the one thing that makes me more valuable: I

Added by Wouter de Bres: “1. Start with why. 2. Build less. 3. Perfection is the wrong goal.

11 Thoughts on product design processes

In a startup, your product is everything. It is why you start your endeavor. It defines your culture, the way you work and it builds your brand - especially in the early days. You hire people based on your product vision and you find costumers that understand why they need your product and pay you money for using it. The

Added by Wouter de Bres: “Sometimes a design problem requires brave decisions. Don't be scared of trying a completely new approach to solve it.

12 Great Design is Brave Design

As designers we endeavor to improve how things work, look and feel; this is achieved by examining how things are and imagining how they may be. It can be argued that all design is inherently concerned with change, which in turn is brought about by making decisions. Design activity involves the process of making many decisions, decisions on how things

Added by Wouter de Bres: “You know that feeling after shipping a project that you're not happy with what you designed? That feeling you could have done better... well...don't do that. Be proud of your work and make it better next time.

14 Project Hangovers and Self-Criticism

16 Becoming a Better Designer, Away from the Screen

The startup world can be a bubble. Most of my daily reading consists of articles posted on Hacker News or Designer News; I sometimes go an entire week without reading something unrelated to the startup scene. The ongoing exchange of knowledge is incredible, but it can also foster an Echo Chamber mentality. If we're all talking to each other, how

Added by Wouter de Bres: “Jake Przespo is one of my favorite designers. In this interview he gives some great answers that we can learn from.

17 Jake Przespo

Added by Wouter de Bres: “Don't be a design dick. Help young designers get better.

19 Educate, don't humiliate

Remember your first website, it was probably pretty shitty right? I know mine was. The web was a completely new canvas to me, up till the age of 17 I was more comfortable with a pencil and a sketchbook than a computer. I started on the web pretty late (by todays average). I loved graphic design and had a fairly

20 Pass it on

Pass it onLeave a lasting legacy through mentoringI studied with a great set designer in college who would end each lesson with "Remember the rule of thumb in theater: Pass it on." What he meant was that everything we learned meant nothing if we didn't pass that knowledge on to other people. It was his way of say 'be a

21 Stay sharp. Be Inspired. Stay Hungry.

Stay sharp. Be Inspired. Stay Hungry.We can all be great, we can all do amazing things. So let's go!I'd like to start this post by saying that I'm expressing my personal viewpoint, and not how I think everyone should handle their career. Everyone's welcome to their own views. I've noticed something as I progress through my career. We all hit

22 The Design Process: A Pyramid

A Doodle from Ryan Germick explaining his design processThe Design Process: A PyramidQuestions to answer before nailing your next design project.Almost two years ago, I got to sit down with Ryan Germick, the lead of the Google Doodle team. When I asked how his team kept shipping such great designs consistently, Ryan asked for my notebook, and drew a pyramid.

23 Unicorn, Shmunicorn - Be a Pegasus

If you're reading this, you're probably a designer. Maybe you code, maybe you don't. But it's likely you're feeling more and more pressure to hone your programming skills and become that mythical product development creature who can both create compelling designs and write production code. There are plenty of reasons why being a unicorn isn't all it's cracked up to

26 A Plea: Design With Conviction, Or Don't Design At All

While driving the other day, I decided to throw caution to the wind and turn on my parents' Spotify, i.e., the radio, only to hear Madonna's voice emerge, treading ever so subtly on the lyrics of her 2008 "Give It 2 Me": "Got no boundaries and no limits. If there's excitement, put me in it. If it's against the law,

27 The Secret to Designing the Right Product

The Secret to Designing the Right ProductI will tell you how to build the best product.Oh, you are building a product? Guess what, I know something about you! You have a ton of ideas on what to do with your product. How to improve it, what to change, what it could eventually look like. You literally have millions of ideas.

28 Emotional Design with A.C.T. - Part 1

Defining Emotion, Personality and Relationship As UX professionals, we strive to design engaging experiences. These experiences help to forge relationships between the products we create and the people who use them. Whether you're designing a website or a physical product, the formation of a relationship depends on how useful, usable and pleasurable the experience is. Ultimately, we form relationships with

29 Emotional Design with A.C.T. - Part 2

Designing Emotion, Personality and Relationship Back in Part 1, we looked at how the emotions expressed by people and products communicate personality traits over time. We also learned that customers are attracted to things that have an aesthetic personality that's similar to their own, but they prefer products that take on a complementary role during interaction. In Part 2, we'll

30 Creative People Say No

Creative People Say NoA Hungarian psychology professor once wrote to famous creators asking them to be interviewed for a book he was writing. One of the most interesting things about his project was how many people said "no." Management writer Peter Drucker: "One of the secrets of productivity (in which I believe whereas I do not believe in creativity) is

Added by Wouter de Bres: “You should learn how to tell the story of the work you have done.

31 How To Build A World-Class Design Portfolio

I've reviewed thousands of designer portfolios over the past 10 years as a former design lead at Facebook and now as the cofounder of the investing and mentoring network Designer Fund. Beautiful shots of your work might've carried you into an interview years ago, but today, design managers at top startups are looking for more. Here are tips for building

Added by Wouter de Bres: “This man is a legend. We can learn a lot from him.

32 Paul Rand on Design

by anthony on 04/12/10 at 10:37 pm Paul Rand is one of the greatest graphic designers that ever lived. The quality of his work was not only stunning, but deep in meaning. He's known for designing the logos of ABC, IBM, UPS and many more. This video gives us a glimpse of his design genius. "Design is the synthesis of

33 10 facts about the brain that will help you design better websites

It all started with a book I found on my mum's bookshelf when I was 15. It was called How To Read People Like A Book. It covered the basics of body language and, for a geeky teenager, uncovered so many possibilities. I could tell which of my friends thought I was boring, how to appear open and engaged to

34 Should Tech Designers Go With Their Guts - Or the Data?

For many tech companies, design is no longer subjective. Instead, it's all about the data. Analytics click and hum behind the scenes, measuring the effectiveness of even the tiniest design decisions. This constant data-stream plays an increasing role in determining what new products we will use and what forms they might take. When it comes to the future of design

35 Why Your UX Designer Won't Be the Next Steve Jobs

Your UX designer won't be the next Steve Jobs. You might be wondering why I would say this. After all, UX designers devote their lives to improving and perfecting the user experience, spending countless hours exploring, anticipating and advocating for users' needs in everything from product design to web usability. Most would argue that Jobs' fanatical focus on design quality

36 Design Process is a Myth

@HEMEONDesign Process is a MythTypically, when a product design falls flat, people want to insert a design process to fix the bad design. However, much like the Ancient Psychic Tandem War Elephant, a one-size-fits-all design process does not exist. Don't force a process on a design team that everyone must follow. Every designer has their own unique way of solving

39 Opinions in Design

Current state of my mind: I was half way to bed when I read this answer from Louie Mantia on the "working at Square" thread on Quora. I could simply not stop myself from writing this for the basic reason that this is important. Really important to me personally. At Square, there's chances to influence products, though I would say

40 Get better

Profanity warning: I don't normally swear this much. Fuck convention. Young designers and those new to the game; I'm going to let you in on a secret. Maybe a few secrets. The sort of things that you find out by yourself through long and painful processes, and endless, horrible clients. Let me begin by telling you the single most important

41 Designing the Whole

When you first launch a product, pretty much every feature you add is (or at least should be) key to achieving your larger vision. You add new modules, pages, sections, overlays and form fields to strengthen and shore up your initial MVP. And, by and large, most of those additions stick. Your users are happy that the beta product they

42 Become a better designer

Become a better designerThings that I do everydayWhen I decided to get serious in UI/UX design a few years back, I asked myself how do I become a better designer? So I sat down and wrote a list of things that I should be working on everyday in order for me to continuously evolve my skills. Today, I'm still going

43 Feedback Doesn't Mean Failure

As UXers, we receive alot of feedback. This can include feedback on our processes, our deliverables or even our approach. Our profession is seen as interesting and fun everyone seems to want to be a part of it. The UX AthleteFrom designing plays to designing experiences... Lis Hubert shares with us her insights on how to become better in what

46 Why you should move that button 3px to the left

Why you should move that button 3px to the leftWhen a product is close to launch, I become a perfectionist. Each misaligned element or awkward interaction is like a thorn in my side. There'll be a dozen tiny implementation mistakes that taunt me each time I run into them. Everything seems so broken. But to everyone else on the team,

Added by Wouter de Bres: “Don't be a lone wolf, collaborate.

47 The Myth of the Lone Genius

The Myth of the Lone GeniusHow collaboration led to the digital revolution - and helped me write my bookAn excerpt and essay drawn from The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution. The computer and the Internet are among the most important inventions of our era, but few people know who created them. They

48 Being self-taught with passion

Almost everyday I receive at least 1 email asking; How I became self-taught designer? If I can recommend any book, course? If I have any advise? Rather than keep replying those emails individually, I wanted to write this short post. I will be talking about design, but the things you will be reading can be applied to pretty much everything.

49 The Politics of Design

It is no secret that the real world in which the designer functions is not the world of art, but the world of buying and selling. For sales, and not design are the raison d'etre of any business organization. Unlike the salesman, however, the designer's overriding motivation is art: art in the service of business, art that enhances the quality

52 The better Designer gives in, not up.

The better Designer gives in, not up. or how to deal with feedback Designers are arrogant. So most people tend to think. Designers are narrow-minded if it comes in challenging their designs. They hate feedback. They do everything in their power not to do the changes they are asked to do. They keep on defending their own ideas. They won't

54 Quality vs. Speed - the death of the designer

Chris THELWellQuality vs. Speed - the death of the designerAre designers focusing too much on perfection? Are they becoming the bottleneck? Are they preventing valuable customer feedback? Are their ego's too big to recognise it? As a designer with over 15 years of professional experience I know the importance of quality. Anyone that's ever worked for me will vouch for

55 Getting Real: Epicenter Design

Epicenter design eschews the traditional "let's build the frame then drop the content in" model. In that process, the page shape is built, then the nav is included, then the marketing "stuff" is inserted, and then, finally, the core functionality, the actual purpose of the page, is poured in to whatever space remains.

58 Alan Cooper and the Goal Directed Design Process

Alan Cooper is not your typical graphic designer-he's an engineer and a card-carrying member of the AIGA. He inhabits both worlds and has something important to say to designers and other engineers. Cooper is not one to say things softly. He's outgoing, quick to offer an opinion or an aphorism, and seems to like nothing better than a healthy debate.

59 Designers Should Act More Like A Product Manager

Six Ways Interaction Designers Should Act More Like A Product Manager"So why should I understand what a product manager does?" It's because 60 to 70 percent of what Interaction Designers do has a direct correlation in skill set to the Product Management job description. Outside of pricing models and a few other business methodologies, good Interaction designers can easily act

61 Push vs. Pull Design

"Design everything on the assumption that people are not heartless or stupid but marvelously capable, given the chance." - The Internet and Everyone, John Chris Jones For the longest time, I thought design was about assuming that people are “stupid” machines who don’t know what they want, and therefore need to be told how to use your product, and that ...

64 Vital Elements of the Product Design Process

Vital Elements of the Product Design Processby Ryan Singer (@rjs) This article was originally posted to Feltpresence.com in August 2013. Product design can look like magic. When I started doing it ten years ago, the small team I worked on made decisions intuitively. There was no system and it worked fine. But as the company grew, I found myself unblocking

65 He's Got Web Design Skills: Interview With Haraldur Thorleifsson

Haraldur Thorleifsson is a freelance Creative Director and designer of things that appear on screens. This includes websites, apps, digital watches, TV's and pretty much anything else they can push pixels onto. He has worked extensively with Google, creating designs with various departments and Google entities, including; Google Drive, Google+, Google Maps, Gmail, Chrome, Creative Labs, Google Cloud, Android, YouTube

66 Designing Products That Scale

Doing product design in a huge organization is tricky. Clear, constant communication is imperative. A few years ago at Salesforce, that mostly meant hours upon hours of creating static redline specs. I didn't go to school for this stuff, but burning the midnight oil to label CSS attributes across hundreds of screens seemed really, really broken. Surely there's a better

Added by Wouter de Bres: “Great design books... and the best is that they are free.

67 10 Best Free eBooks for Designers

28,966 Views July 15, 2014 Vilnius, Lithuania Design 2 min readEbooks these days are getting immense response for the simple reason that these are easily available. There are thousands of ebooks about everything. Starting with typography, wireframes, logo designs and apps. All those books you can find in Amazon or Apple stores. But you know that there is no guarantee

70 We Don’t Need More Designers Who Can Code

A lot has been made of the need for designers who can code. A quick google search for " should designers learn to code " yields 25 million results. To be straight from the outset, I don't completely disagree with the premise. However, I think the statement, "we need designers who can code" misrepresents the underlying issue. As the head

Added by Wouter de Bres: “Apps are not just a closed digital environment, they are becoming more of an integrated system.

71 The End Of Apps As We Know Them - Inside Intercom

The experience of our primary mobile screen being a bank of app icons that lead to independent destinations is dying. And that changes what we need to design and build. How we experience content via connected devices - laptops, phones, tablets, wearables - is undergoing a dramatic change. The idea of an app as an independent destination is becoming less

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