September 11, 2017

Design for Developers Book vs Course?

Hey All,

I'm writing a book to teach developers how to design. I want to cover the design principles, techniques, tips, tricks and tools that can be used to design UI's that will help sell their products. It's still in the early stages.

I put up a simple landing page while waiting for the hurricane to go away. I was going to hold off until it passed but honestly, I need something else to think/talk about so I want to share it here and get any feedback that you all want to give.

Also, if you have comments/questions/suggestions on what aspects of design you might like to learn, I welcome a discussion about it.

Here's the link if you want to take a look:

Thanks in advance.

  1. 2

    I like the title!

    You may want to consider some wordsmithing. Most developers have an idea what a design background brings to a project but don't consider their own projects to be ugly. Adding a phrase to say something like: "how to add the shine that will make your projects really pop!" would send the positive message that developers need to build on a solid base rather than mitigating a fundamental flaw.

    You may also want to add something of value of this page; a basic app design checklist, for instance, would be a great contribution and content teaser.

    1. 2

      Thanks again for the comments. I updated the copy. Still needs some work.

      1. 1

        I think that you're getting closer. Thanks for the reply! :)

    2. 2

      Good input. For the headline, I went with a real quote from somebody asking me for help. They asked me how to stop developing ugly stuff. I agree that I should spin it to a more positive message overall.

  2. 1

    I'm definitely target audience and the thought of a "book" is really off-putting.

    Even if it's essentially the same content, I feel more drawn to a digestible "course" with smaller sections and plenty of images.

    In terms of content, I'd like to see some case studies with good/bad feedback, sources to get inspiration for new projects, and basic rules of thumb/guidelines.

    Very productive way to way to spend your hurricane time!

  3. 1

    I need this so bad, it just needs to be practical and hands-on.

    As a developer, I don't want to "become" a designer, I just want to know enough to make my projects look beautiful af, and unique, instead of using bootstrap every goddamn time.

    I spent weeks looking for something like this and couldn't find anything that doesn't bore me right away. Someone mentionned in the comments, I remember signing up since it seemed like what I'm looking for, even though I'd rather have something to guide me when starting a project from scratch, instead of refactoring existing projects.

  4. 1

    FYI. Your subscription mails going into my hotmail spam folder.

    1. 1

      I've found hotmail to be especially picky about what it considers "not spam".

      1. 1

        Yes, my mailgun emails also ending in hotmail spam. Right now I am experimenting with different email hosting providers.

        1. 1

          I've used Sparkpost (in a very scenario so far; the tool is actually being launched today) from an account with DKIM verification. I think that I'll just need more messages sent and marked as "not spam".

    2. 1

      Thanks prakis. I'm using MailChimp which is usually pretty safe but I will see if I can tweak anything to avoid that. Thanks again for the heads up!

  5. 1

    you should check out ... they are planning something similar.

    1. 1

      I hadn't heard of this one. Very similar idea.

  6. 1

    I think you've hit on a valuable problem, but a book on core design principles doesn't seem like a particularly compelling solution.

    First, there are lots of other books out there that discuss these exact topics. I recently talked to Tracy Osborn on the podcast (episode will be out in a few weeks), who just finished writing Hello Web Design, which is basically the same thing. And hers is not the first.

    Why should developers choose your book over other design-for-developers books? I suppose you can try to make a case for why yours is different, but that will be difficult. They'll always be stiff competition for you, and having close competition is not ideal. It means fewer people will choose you or get excited about what you're doing.

    Why not avoid that altogether by differentiating your product?

    For example, why write a book? You could do a series of blog posts, or interviews, or a newsletter, or videos, or a set of helpful tools, or even put together interactive online exercises. When my brother wanted to teach people Flexbox, he made a game. That's the kind of stuff that gets to the top of Hacker News and other channels where developers hang out.

    Think about the content itself, too, as it applies to your customers. Do developers really want to learn about individual design principles like typography and Gestalt principles? Do they care more about knowledge, or do they want practical skills? Do they want a crash course, or do they want to spend months learning? Are they seeking to gain general design knowledge, or do they more often want help fixing up a specific thing they've already built?

    You need to know what people want in order to build the perfect product/service/content for them, and in order to explain the benefits in a compelling way on your marketing pages.

    The good thing about teaching is that there's such a huge variety of learning goals and learning styles. So no matter what's already out there, you can always find a way to be unique and appeal to an under-served niche of people.

    1. 1

      Thanks for the input. All very valid points.

      I settled on the book because it's a more low ceremony way to teach. I had considered doing a series of screencasts or an email course. I still like the idea of the email course.

      You gave some good input around knowing the customer and what they want and I need to tailor my messaging accordingly.

      I am targeting a smaller subset of developers. I've talked to many developers who do actually want to learn design so that they can be their own "team" and create products from idea to deliverable.

      I will update the messaging to talk to those people specifically.

      I remember seeing your brothers Flexbox game. Very clever idea. I can see creating an email course/site that teaches developers a technique and asks them to refactor a bad UI with the technique they just learned. Maybe a place to share their efforts.

  7. 1

    As a UX Designer with a dev-background I would add a lot of examples. Good practice, Bad practice examples which help the devs get a feeling for good and bad stuff. And which provides inspiration for the own UI.

    My guess is most devs dont really WANT to learn design but rather get it done as quickly as possible with minimal effort. But this is just a hunch ;-)

    1. 1

      Thank so for the thoughts. I'm going to structure it as a good/bad mix and refactoring the design and why to do it. Similar to how a dev would refactor and optimize code. I need to update the landing page with that messaging.