Non-Design Skills Needed by Designers

Like in many oth­er spe­cial­ised fields, to become a great design­er one must mas­ter or be acquain­ted with many non-design skills.

User inter­face design­er Aza Raskin – ex-Cre­at­ive Lead at Fire­fox and son of Jef – offers up this list of what he believes to be most import­ant to do and mas­ter in order to become a design­er:

  1. The Hard­est Part of Soft­ware is Cul­ture. Get a Book on Nego­ti­ation. If you can­not com­mu­nic­ate, you will fail. If you can­not con­vince, you will fail. If you can­not listen, you will fail. […] To design is to inspire par­ti­cip­a­tion. Unless we can let our ideas become oth­er people’s ideas—get oth­ers to want to cham­pi­on design as their own—we will not be suc­cess­ful. […] The hard­est part of your job isn’t being cre­at­ive or bril­liant; it’s com­mu­nic­at­ing and cul­ture.
  2. Know Cog­nit­ive Psy­cho­logy. You are design­ing for people; you need to be well versed in the abil­it­ies and frailties of the human mind. […] Inter­face design is as much a sci­ence as it is an art. Know the sci­ence, else you are walk­ing blindly through a mine­field of harm­ful design.
  3. Learn to Pro­gram, Even if Poorly. Thucy­dides wrote, “The soci­ety that sep­ar­ates its schol­ars from its war­ri­ors will have its think­ing done by cow­ards and its fight­ing by fools.” The optim­al soci­ety is one that mixes schol­ar-war­ri­ors and war­ri­or-schol­ars. The same is true for com­pan­ies that schism their design­ers and engin­eers.
  4. Cre­ate, Cre­ate, Cre­ate. You’ll need thou­sands of hours of prac­tice to rise to the top of your game. […] If you don’t have dozens of little pro­jects you’ve cre­ated, learned from, and even dis­carded, you are doing it wrong.
  5. Study Graph­ic Design. Looks affect usab­il­ity. Looks are just one aspect of design­ing for emo­tion­al beings—you need to think about the whole sens­ory exper­i­ence of an object, from sound to touch—but looks are often the most imme­di­ately appar­ent.