Learn Design: 3 Reasons for Non-Designers


Even if you don’t think of yourself as a designer, learning how to design websites can be a valuable part of your web content creation process. And when I say learn design, I don’t mean just learning HTML and CSS. I mean you should learn design techniques and the principles of good design.

It is very common for business owners and developers to think that they don’t have the skills to design their own websites. Business owners might think they don’t have the technical know-how and developers might feel intimidated by the design aspects of the work. But it’s possible to get a handle on web design even if you don’t know the technology or don’t know design, or both!

Knowing Design Helps You Focus Your Content

learn design to focus on content
Your design should focus on your content

One of the key things about good design is that it centers on the message. A well designed book is easy to read. A well designed brochure gets the call to action right out in front of customers. And a well designed website lets the customer see the content first.

Once you know a few design techniques such as line work or flow, you will start to understand how your content can be improved (or ruined) through design. I recommend learning the basics of design even if you’re going to hire a professional web designer to do the work. That way you’ll be able to articulate what you’d like changed more effectively and you’ll understand what the designer means when she tells you the reason behind the font choice or the shading or colors.

Design Knowledge Helps You Refine the Styles You Already Like

learn design to refine your styles
A fractal is constantly being refined

If you know that you like bright colors with lots of vibrant images to go along with them, having some knowledge of the design tenets that support those choices will make your choices that much better. Without knowing design, you might just think “I like reds” and leave it at that. But after studying design, you might discover that red colors have specific meanings to certain cultures or that warm colors (like reds and oranges) convey a sense of warmth to the entire site. And once you understand the meanings behind colors, you might decide to increase that feeling on your site with similar colors or you might try to tone it down with complementary colors in the cooler side of the spectrum.

One design aesthetic that many designers learn is how many, or really how few fonts they should use on a page. A website that has been designed will typically only have one or two different font faces (font families in CSS) on the page. But many web designers start out with dozens of different font faces. As they learn more about effective design, they reduce the fonts until they have a workable amount that enhances rather than detracts from the page content.

You Will Become More Discerning by Learning Design

learn design and abandon broken things
Abandon the old and broken designs

Once you start learning how to do design well, you’ll start noticing all the places where it’s done poorly. You’ll notice signs with too many fonts, ebooks with too much white space, and websites that aren’t balanced. This might seem like a bad thing, but as you’re noticing the flaws in designs you’ll also start to notice the sites that are designed well. You’ll start admiring typography and want to learn how to add more contrast to your pages. Your images will get better as you start to recognize well designed photos alongside the web design.

But because of this improved discernment, your entire website will improve. Spacing issues that might have gone unnoticed will start to bug you. And every time an image is resized incorrectly you’ll cringe. If you’re a developer, you’ll want to learn how to fix those things yourself. And if you’re a site owner, you’ll have your list of improvements for your design team.

Do You Agree? Do You Want to Learn Design?

Do you think it will add value? Why or why not? If you don’t already know design, are you going to go out and try to learn more?

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