<hpcodecraft> release the kraken!

What is design?

Reading time: 4 minutes

This is my tl;dr summary of the first lesson of the awesome Hackdesign course.

Good design is...

The different disciplines of design:

How to see the world like a designer

Discontented observationalism is the designer’s modus operandi.

Design is a constant process driven by the designer’s urge to improve his/her surroundings.

Tips for the transition from development to design

  1. Don’t stop building things
    Design and development are connected and interdependent. Don’t neglect development skills, you’ll need them later (e.g. for prototyping)
  2. Learn design in order of dependency
    Don’t try to learn everything simultaneously, do it step-by-step.
    The design process can be broken down to these steps that depend on each other:

    1. Design for reliability (write good code)
    2. Design for performance (write fast code)
    3. Design for organization (information architecture and content hierarchy)
    4. Design for order & structure (interface design/wireframing)
    5. Design for interaction (translate wireframes into a rich experience)
    6. Design for aesthetics (visual/motion design)

    In the end the goal is to learn to use all these skills concurrently like variables in a equation that are adjusted throughout the entire design process.

  3. Design everything you do
    Your clothing, your room, written and face-to-face communication: Everything you do should have a reason, no matter how small. Design requires constant practice and this is a great way to keep growing.
  4. Care about your audience
    Put your focus on the people your work will affect. If you care about your audience, you’ll automatically care more about the subject.
  5. Talk about design and listen even more
    Discuss with others, ask question and listen. Listening will challenge your preconceptions and push your thinking.
  6. Learn to write, then learn to speak
    When building your philosophy and approaches, formulate them to an audience. In the long termn, try to speak in front of an auience at least once. Communicating the thinking behind your work can be as important as the work itself.
  7. Focus on defining and solving problems
    Do not design for decoration - Designers solve problems. Try to figure out what problems a user can have with your product and solve them.
  8. Listen to your gut, but trust your brain
    Do not follow design trends blindly. Follow your instincts but try to understand your solutions afterwards.
  9. Be your biggest critic
    You’ll never be perfect but you should always try. When in doubt lean towards being too hard on yourself rather than too easy.
  10. Learn from the time-tested and emulate it
    Good design has hold steady over the years. Look at those designs to guide your approach. For software, operating systems are a good role model as they are around a long time.
  11. Ideate romantically, create pragmatically
    Your ideas should be bigger than reality, but our execution should be married to it. This ensures your project can have a future.

Interaction design in a nutshell

Interaction designers are concerned with the interaction between users and computers ("human-computer interaction"). They try to create useful and usable products and services by taking a user-centered approach. They want to understand the user’s goals, tasks, experiences, needs and wants.
In a project team a interaction designer helps to develop a design strategy and does wireframing and prototyping of user interactions.

Concepts of interaction design


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