Educate, Don’t Humiliate

(AKA Not Being a Design Dickhead)

Remember your first website, it was probably pretty shitty right? I know mine was. The web was a completely new canvas to me, up till the age of 17 I was more comfortable with a pencil and a sketchbook than a computer. I started on the web pretty late (by todays average). I loved graphic design and had a fairly good understanding of grids and typography for print but when it came to my first website all that went out the window. Why? Because it was hard and I didn’t have the time.

It’s hard to understand web semantics, grids and how best to implement fonts on the web when you first get started. For me, all I wanted to do is create a simple site for my college project. I started, like most in my year by using Fireworks and Dreamweaver, I’d export my assets as HTML in Fireworks, even applying hover effects at that stage and doing some basic editing in Dreamweaver after.

And it was fine, well it was awful, but it did the job. It got my project online, and I was graded well for it in college. Obviously from there I took the time to learn about semantics, grids and the like, but that took years. I was still a graphic designer for a long time, only really designing for the web over the past 5 years.

During this time I was very conscious about showing my work on sites like Behance because I saw all the amazing talent on there and felt very inadequate. I’d see an average design be criticised, some were really harsh. Yes, part of this was trolling, but some were by professionals who’d obviously been in the game for a while and had amazing portfolios.

“I’ll stay clear from that till I’m good enough.” — I thought.

The point of this is because years later, fast forward and I still notice this going on today. Unfortunately that’ll never change, people still hate and humiliate those with clearly less experience than them.

Today I saw this

Facebook redesign by Saptarshi Nath

Full —

Along with comments such as:

Dickhead #1
Dickhead #2

I’ll talk about the design in a minute, but firstly, The people who wrote those comments, just fuck off. Why humiliate this guy? What are you adding to it?

Short rant over, it is clear to me this guy is new to web design. He’s tried to work with a grid, just not understood how one should be used. The typography has some issues and I actually remember putting those little magnifying glasses over everything, no matter if it was needed or not.

After a little digging, I found the guy was 18 and was very new to this. Since first drafting this post there have been some more helpful comments, but I’ll continue.

It’s important to understand that no-one is born a web designer, it takes time and practise. We learn from our mistakes and from others, when you’re new to design, hateful comments can have a nasty effect, I know they would have for me. Enough to put some people off, or at least not show their work again.

I’ve been guilty of this before, not taking the time to actually think before I speak / tweet. As a general rule we should try harder to understand why the designer has made the decisions they’ve made and think about their experience and how we can help, not just humiliate them. Take the time to provide newbies with the resources and answers that they need. That’s education.

This is my open letter, to you Saptarshi and any other newbie designers who are worried about critique and need advice. I’m in no way perfect, and we’re all still learning but if I can help in a any way, I will.

Don’t worry about the haters, keep going and you’ll get better. Ask people you respect if you have questions.

I also strongly recommend the following books, which might help:

Update 25/11/13 — I have compiled a full list of resources (currently 100+) here:

Finally, if you’d like to talk to me I’d be happy to. just send me an email: