Learning design techniques as a technical person

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by Cromulent, Apr 2, 2011.

  1. Cromulent, Apr 2, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2011

    Cromulent macrumors 603


    Oct 2, 2006
    The Land of Hope and Glory
    I am a developer and have been increasingly getting into the web development arena. The programming is fine on both the back end and front end but unfortunately I have reached the stage where I feel like I need a more solid foundation in graphic design techniques to move further along in my development work. It seems that most people who hire a web developer expect them to be artists as well which seems absurd given that one job is extremely technically and the other not quite so much.

    Anyway back to the point. Does anyone have any resources (books, websites, podcasts etc etc) that explain the fundamental design principles that might help a technical person like myself get up to speed with design related stuff?

    Any help is very much appreciated.

    Edit: Balls just saw the sticky thread at the top of the forum. Whilst it does contain some nice stuff it would still be nice to have a few other recommendations (mainly book orientated stuff as the sticky seems to be more about web resources). Thanks!
  2. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

    Mar 25, 2009
    Folding space
    The Non-Designers series by Robin Williams is a good place to start. They explain the foundation concepts in an easily digestible way. The link is to an Amazon page. Search on Web Design Books and you will find the Non-Designers Web book.

    A Random Amazon Link

  3. Cabbit macrumors 68020


    Jan 30, 2006
    I am finding myself increasingly stuck in the same situation and it seems i need to sell some pretty design to get a client to buy the fancy CMS or ecommerce system i am selling. It would seem to be very much web related as i have never heard of printer being asked to code a database.

    My only suggestion is if you can't find a good designer to work with start learning colour theory and look at other sites and start firing up some designs on paper if you have to. A lot of the basic elements of a website make logical sense to developers.

    Surprisingly perhaps is that developers make good UI designers as we tend to structure the forms and pages in clear logical forms.
  4. Cromulent thread starter macrumors 603


    Oct 2, 2006
    The Land of Hope and Glory
    Thanks for the tip, that looks like a great book to get. Surprisingly cheap too.

    Yeah, its just all of my designs tend to end up being extremely blocky and bland with extremely poor use of colour and typography. I'd like to do something a little bit more visually attractive.

    I hate to use the phrase but some of the "web 2.0" style sites have a look which looks stunning whilst still maintaining clarity and simplicity. I think it is mainly down to colour usage and typography as I can't really see many differences between their layouts and mine.
  5. lucidmedia macrumors 6502a

    Oct 13, 2008
    Wellington, New Zealand
    Actually, it is important to understand that the history of design IS the history of technology... design has always been filtered through a medium, and the limitations of the medium has defined the types of work we do... typography is a great example of this... historical letterforms are shaped the way they are because of the tools that made them and limitations of printing presses at the time. Like a good photographer or filmmaker, good designers need to understand the technologies they work in and, where appropriate, push those boundaries.

    So, good design programs are now teaching computation along with the traditional forms of form making because we cannot separate what we make from how we make it.

    Its funny because, lots of designers don't want to learn programming, and many developers don't want to learn about design. They see them as very separate disciplines. I never have. Both require creativity, they just approach the same problem from different sides. People "expect web developers to be artists" because end users don't see or care about technology, they care about user experience. and creating a good user experience requires both skills.

    Looking at design books will help, but I (personally) think that this is a very hard way to learn. Traditionally art and design have been taught via a mentorship and critique model -- primarily because there are no "right or wrong" answers. In this model you do work then hang it on the wall and discuss it with your peers and an instructor who has more experience. This gives you a broad range of opinions about the things you have made that you can then process and form your own opinions about. This form of team learning is important, because it mimics the audience of your work and prepares you for professional criticism of your work.

    So, my suggestion is to find some evening classes. Most schools with a design program also run adult education courses in the evening. Classes on interface design would be helpful, but even intro design or typography courses are useful for developing your sensitivity to composition, form, color and hierarchy. Those are the things that will greatly improve your design.
  6. BBrandDesign macrumors member

    Feb 28, 2011
    Thanks Designer Dale to share this useful info with us. I just was looking for such info.

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