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Do you struggle with design too?

Nadine M. Thêry
At my 30s I found out that there was a developer inside a Political Science Graduated. I've been COO an CMO for 4 years but I decided to persue my dream and become a Front-end developer:)
・1 min read

Since I've started coding, I found the design decisions the hardest part of the job. I mean, of course, you struggle with your code. You may have eventually come up with a great app or webapp... but then you go to your localhost:3000 and a sad, bad aligned website looks back at you. I feel like when you do not master design, then the hard work is just not appreciated in the same way.

I love struggling with how to make something look what I want it to. But I just have not developed yet any talent for making a good design.
What I talk about when I talk about good design? You know:

  • Something that doesn't look like from the 90s
  • Nice, clean, tidy design.
  • Attention grabbers where they must be
  • Armonious, yet original colour combinations.
  • That feeling like every element is just where it belongs!

I find myself more comfortable among lines of code, but I am sure it is because I don't feel confident enough to make good designs from my own. But hey, I also think that professional designers are really a valuable asset and maybe is not really "my duty" to make a stunning design? Not sure about this. What do you think?

How do you supply the lack of creativity or just good eye? Feel free to share tips and resources.

P/S: Graphic Designers, I really think you are all so cool...

Discussion (23)

flrnd profile image
Florian Rand • Edited

Thanks for this long answer. You are right, I failed miserably to convey what I wanted to say. Likewise, I can't deny the points you made in this answer because I agree with most of them.

There is only one little detail about, which I disagree. I would've agreed with you if your advice had started with:

  1. Read/learn/educate {...} first.
  2. Find a design you think it works. Because design is about solving problems, no making pretty things for people like or dislike.
  3. Shamelessly copy. (this, in fact, it's great advice).
  4. Rise and repeat.

And lastly, I sometimes express things in a very direct way, maybe a bit blunt, but it wasn't my intention to offend you by any means. For that part, I'm sorry.

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niorad profile image
Antonio Radovcic

You could try to do a typography-basics-course/book. Website-Design is almost all typography. (If you do a web-app you also have to deal with ergonomics)

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maniflames profile image
Maniflames

Woah I've never thought about it this way. Do you have any recommendations for typography courses/books?

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niorad profile image
Antonio Radovcic

I had all of that stuff in Uni so I never needed it but basically something like this:
amazon.de/Design-Typography-etc-Da...

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kenbellows profile image
Ken Bellows

Huge recommendation: check out hackdesign.org

It's a "course" on design specifically targeted to web developers. I put "course" in quotes because it's largely based on curated lists of blogs and articles on different topics, with some narration.

When I was first learning design topics, I found this course extremely useful. It goes over a huge amount of material at whatever pace you want.

Also, it's free!

Seriously, check it out, I learned a ton from it.

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flrnd profile image
Florian Rand

Over time, you will develop your own aesthetic and will be able to generate a unique design from scratch, but this is how you can get started.

That's your perception. A visual designer is like a musician with notes and sounds, but with colors, composition, visual weights, scale, perspective, and a lot more things. Do you know what do designers feel when they see some "unique design from scratch"? The same feeling when someone with no proper violing training tries to play Niccolò Paganini.

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

I consider myself a creative person but interface design is hard! It requires mastery of a lot of skills at the same time and everything is in flux all the time. It's hard to communicate about.

What are folks' favorite "inspiration" sources? I use Dribbble but feel like there's something to be desired. Any great sources?

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pranavlathigara profile image
PRANAV LATHIGARA

you should check uplabs.com/
this is great source for design free and premium..

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nanythery profile image
Nadine M. Thêry Author

I have also taken some advice from Angela Yu's course, and I use inspiration from
awwwards.com/

Well, it feels like a total demotivation sometimes too hehehe...

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flrnd profile image
Florian Rand • Edited

That's normal, and it talks good things about you that you are aware of! A lot of people are okay with their design decisions and believe me, that's dangerous waters.

Think about this problem as a developer. If you need to solve insert here problem X, you probably look for a node package or some kind of framework, library, right? you don't write from scratch everything.

Well, then, why everybody tries to play designer from scratch? Because it's fun and rewarding, but also easy to make mistakes if you don't have some education in visual language.

I consider myself a creative person but interface design is hard! It requires mastery of a lot of skills at the same time and everything is in flux all the time. It's hard to communicate about.

What are folks' favorite "inspiration" sources? I use Dribbble but feel like there's something to be desired. Any great sources?

A really good source of inspiration, that very few people think about designs systems. AirBnB, Google Material, Atlassian, IBM, Spotify, {...}, you name it, already solved a huge amount of problems related to design, and the best part is that you have access to them! they are waiting for you to "hack them".

There is a book that I always recommend, A Primer of Visual Literacy, by Donis A. Dondis (La sintaxis de la imagen, in Spanish). The book is not the best about visual language, but is very easy to follow, and a really good introduction. Obviously there are books a lot better in that precise matter, but this one is a must-read for anyone doing anything visual. Trust me on this, there will be a before and after if you read and understand how human perception works, that would help you a lot in terms to take those decisions about colors, composition, and a lot more things that you probably never thought that matters in visual design. And more importantly, design is not only about making things look pretty, aesthetics it's only 10% of a design job.

All in all, whatever doubt you have, I'll be more than happy to show some light in this topic.

(Also, be smart, use components and libraries, and leave designers do their jobs ;)

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nanythery profile image
Nadine M. Thêry Author

You are right, why do we tend to overcomplicate things? hehehe

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highcenburg profile image
Vicente G. Reyes

I'm not a creative person but I realize that there are billions of sites in te world wide web so what I do is I stick to what I know and just add "condiments" to make a site not look like a previois site I've built

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nanythery profile image
Nadine M. Thêry Author

Definitely, It's something we need to do when we do have to finish a project. But I would like to have the ability to do something decent on my own at least... but yes, I guess almost everything is invented, isn't it?

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highcenburg profile image
Vicente G. Reyes

I guess what Im trying to say is I cant copy a design from behance or dribbble😂

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John Munro

Good UI is key, user should be able to use it without instructions.

A user can only do one thing at a time so focus on that.

limit the call to actions on a page to at most 3

keep it clean and use colours where appropriate to aid the UI

I started with a degree in design and no code the full stack, but a code back-end is useless with a good user experience on the front end, unless it's for background jobs.

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Scott Simontis

My view on the issue has been that there is some science to visual design, but I just prefer to study a lot of other subjects in depth instead of those. Some of it is definitely intuition. I think the advent of Bootstrap has made inspiration a lot harder to find because so many sites look identical now and even those who change up things a little still follow the same design patterns and build the same conceptual layouts.

I think design systems are a wonderful thing and it is important to convey a consistent visual experience aligned with your brand, but at the same time I worry that they encourage a herd mentality towards design and it becomes very difficult to imagine innovative designs, especially when if you are forced to align it with the rest of your company's design system.

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king profile image
👑

This is also on Ben’s thread, but here’s a list, just in case. Happy dev’ing/designing! 😊

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vinceramces profile image
Vince Ramces Oliveros

Your Client.

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trostcodes profile image
Alex Trost

As in "the client knows best"? I strongly disagree.

Things like market research and user testing are just some of the tools that developers and designers use to understand if a product works.

I can't tell you how many websites would be blasting music on page load if we left all decisions to the client.