Are you interested in product design but have no clue on how to learn it? As a newbie, you can start learning product design and earn mastery in it if you use the right learning materials, development tools, and have a determined mind that is dedicated and fixed on getting jobs done.
Just like any profession, product design is not easy. The process is not even a straight one; you need to go back and forth and iterate through until you get a final piece. However, as you earn mastery in the skill, your planning process becomes more solid and produces better results, thus, reduces the process of erasing already done work.
In this article, Plant reveals to you how to learn product design as a newbie the right way.
Get the Basics First
Just as learning how to use a paintbrush does not make you an artist, learning how to use Sketch does not make you a product designer. You need an eye and mind that knows design. The only way to have these is by learning the basics of drawing. Yes, you need to know how to draw if you are serious about becoming a good product designer. You can learn how to draw by getting a copy of the e-book, “You can Draw in 30 days”.
Make sure you practice drawing using the book as a guide for 30 days. With the drawing skills gained, you can say to have gained the basics skills for drawing. Aside from drawing, you need to learn the following.
Learn Graphic Design Theory
Graphic design theory is at the central point of product design. Those good in product design use it either knowingly or unknowingly. For some things to make sense to you, you need to have a “graphic design sense,” and that’s what learning the theory gives you.
At this stage, make sure you learn about color theory, how colors can be used together to make a particular impression, and how to avoid using colors blindly. Also, to be learned in this stage is typography and designing with the use of a grid. You can read articles online that teach all these. Be sure not to just read. Remember, you need practice to earn perfection.
Learn User Experience
One of the tasks of a product designer is to produce designs that provide the best user experience. If a product designer does not have a skill in user experience design, he/she shouldn’t even be in the profession in the first place. A lot of books have been written about this subject. However, there are two that stands out — “The Design of Everyday Things” and “Don’t Make Me Think”.
Read these books thoroughly, and you will understand why users prefer a particular product to others and why people get frustrated when using a particular product. If a product provides a simple user experience, such products will be loved by its users.
Learn How to Write
Regardless of your design skills, if you do not have good writing skills, you will need a writer to provide you with write-ups that catches user’s attention. While outsourcing the writing part is not bad, think of the money you’re spending while outsourcing and the disadvantages of the writer not having the same idea as you.
Learn to use words and how to have them incorporated into your designs and see how your designs will stand out. This part of the guide is not mandatory, though, because big design companies usually have writers or outsource the writing part out, but small companies and freelance designers do not have such liberty. Learn to write as a designer, and you will be happy you did.
Learn Design Software Tools
After learning the basics of design and can comfortably design using paper and pencil, with graphic design theories in mind, you can now move to learn how to use design software. Dozens of design software exist, and even without saying it, you cannot learn all. If I am to recommend designing software for you, I would recommend Sketch.
It is at this stage that you will fully appreciate knowing the basics of design before learning Sketch. The process will just look like using technology to create what you can do without technology, but in this case, better, cleaner, and more efficient.
Aside from learning design tools, you need to learn how to use a version control system to keep versions of your designs and be able to revert changes and able to collaborate on Sketch files with colleagues. One of such tools is Plant, a version control system made specifically for designers.
You read that heading right. You need to specialize for you to become a true professional. The saying, “jack of all trade, master of none” exists in the profession. You can only be good in some of the subfields and then earn mastery in one or a few. You can decide to specialize in logo design, mobile app design, or web design.
Whichever you choose, make sure that is where your interest lies and be sure you are good at it. Learn how to learn what others do not want to learn and practice that part of design people run away from as that will set you apart from the designers out there.
Get a Job
After going through the steps above, you are expected to have gotten the skills required to get a job in your chosen specialty. You can then start applying for jobs if you want to work under someone or start as a freelance designer. Regardless of the part you choose, you need to have built a portfolio of projects to show to your clients or future boss to prove you’re fit for the job.
Product design is a skill that can be learned. It entails learning the basics of drawing, design theories, color theory, typography, user experience, and writing. You also need to learn how to use Sketch well to be able to apply what you learned about drawing and graphic design theory. After these, you can then specialize and start building your design portfolio that you can use to get clients or jobs.