Links and articles about technology, design, and sociology. Written by Rian van der Merwe. Follow @RianVDM
The key to becoming a better designer: learn to [something]
Alex Maughan adds some fresh perspective to the reasonably stale “Should designers learn to code?” debate. In The click of a well-made box he writes:
I don’t just believe that having development knowledge helps me and others get stuff done. I believe it makes me a better designer. It does this in the same way that being empathetic to both user and business need does; in the same way that aesthetic theory in visual design does; in the same way that content awareness does; in the same way that knowledge of cultural semiotics and iconography does; in the same way that all sorts of knowledge systems do. Many things can positively influence a designer, and many things ultimately do, just as many areas of knowledge can enhance the value and efficacy of on’s work in any discipline.
Spot on. The code aspect is just something we’ve recently been focusing on, but let’s not forget all the other things that can make us better designers. The key to becoming a better designer is not necessarily to learn to code (although it could be — as Alex argues for very effectively). The key to becoming a better designer is to keep learning something related to the craft, always. I love how Alex Charchar (too many Alexes!) describes the current shift to more knowledge-based design in The Principles of Style:
The importance that designers place in their skills is increasing at a staggering rate. We have always taken our craft seriously, but now we are treating it as the architects do. We are working hard to shake the shadow of the artiness and whimsy of our work and are showing that being creative is serious stuff. Some of us have nerded out over theory forever, but the dusty tomes are no longer propping up the wonky table of our profession. Things are getting increasingly balanced and level.
It happened so quickly and what was once hard to find knowledge is now base knowledge. A dependency upon style has been replaced with fundamentals. Theory has become methadone and sobriety looks damn pretty.
So let’s relax a bit about learning to code, and rather stress out about whether we’re learning something. And as Alex (Maughan this time) points out at the end of his essay, make sure it’s something you enjoy:
I also simply enjoy the hell out of it, no matter what value others end up placing on it.