8 Reasons Every Designer Should Build an App

Whether you’re a graphic designer, fashion designer, illustrator or sandwich artist, all creative people have one thing in common: you think about things differently. You can see through the surface of a problem that most people can’t. The ability to imagine something in your head and create it with your hands makes you extremely qualified to fix the broken things in the world. The smart phone revolution, with its open distribution platform and rapidly growing user reach, is making it easier than ever for creative minds to change the world.

Here are 8 reasons why you should take advantage of this opportunity:

1. Full Creative Freedom.

If you’re fortunate enough to be involved with a creative team at your job, you know how thrilling it can be to see an idea come to life before your eyes. However, the truth is, you may never know true freedom until you create something entirely on your own. Without the client feedback, leadership egos, last minute timeline changes and budget cuts. This is your revenge. You’re the boss. For the first time in forever, your true creative ethos can run wild and free.

2. Fix Something That Sucks.

It’s natural for you to want to use your creativity to improve things. Creative people see a layer between a problem and a solution that most people don’t. Chances are, you notice problems that a lot of people don’t even recognize. Find something that annoys you to the very core of your being. Your passion will push you towards an endless flow of solutions. It’s now your creative duty to bring the best one to life. Thomas Edison said it best: “There’s a way to do it better — find it.”

3. Failures Become Good.

Failure is a good thing. As an artist you can understand this, however at your job you’re told the opposite. This is the reason we see so many reserved company cultures with shackled creativity. It’s your own time now, and every mess-up is at your own expense. There’s no job title or position at stake and there’s no money being burned. Every failure becomes a valuable lesson that you’ll remember forever and it won’t cost you a thing. This understanding will bring you bold and fearless decisions. The ones that lead to the amazing products that drive the world today. It’s like playing Super Mario with infinite lives.

4. No More Micromanagement.

Some may consider project management a weak area for creative people. The truth is, creatives can be incredibly strong project managers if they understand the strategy entirely and are given enough time to focus. It’s the constant disruption from micromanagement processes that can really throw off one’s creative energy. Imagine what the Mona Lisa would look like if Leonardo da Vinci had to check in with a project manager every 15 minutes. Whether you’re working alone or with a small team on your app, you will have to closely manage several tasks and disciplines. This experience is incredibly rewarding because it can be applied to so many other aspects of your life.

5. Appreciation For Other Peoples’ Jobs.

Suddenly you need to come up with a catchy introductory paragraph for your app store description. It needs to be informative, yet brief. It’s best to make it about 5 sentences long, with keywords carefully picked to optimize for the app store’s rapidly-changing search engine algorithm. It can’t be too generic though, because it needs to stand out from the rest… but don’t forget about those keywords. Oh yeah, and if you don’t get this right, your app will immediately plunge to the bottom of the search rankings and everything you’ve worked so hard for will have been for nothing. Bet you’ll have a new respect for the creative writers of the world now, won’t you? Or project manager, or developer, etc. You’ll start to notice new things and will appreciate other disciplines more. For once, you’ve stood in their shoes.

6. Self Discovery.

Like every journey in life, this one will certainly have its ups and downs. Whenever passion leads, discovery will follow. At times you’ll feel inspired and unstoppable, and other times defeated, discouraged and alone. Behind every barrier you face the same energy and creative spirit that inspired the idea will be waiting just around the corner to revive you. You will keep pushing and pushing, never giving up. You’ll discover hidden flaws, strengths, productivity patterns and personality traits that you never knew existed. Your integrity will be tested. When patience wears thin, the values that have kept you an artist will face the ultimate test. And like every struggle in life, the lowest lows will be the most memorable. As an artist, you fought through the deadliest force. You finished something that you started!

7. That Magic Moment.

Everything will make sense when you finally see what you’ve built being used in real life. When you hear people talk about it, and how it helped them. You’ll immediately reflect on the struggles it took to get you there and will be overcome with a sense of pride that can’t be explained in words. You need to experience it yourself to find out.

8. It’s Never Been Easier.

The best part is that it’s never been easier to get started. Whether you want to learn how to create an app entirely on your own or are looking to collaborate with a developer, there are a number of different resources available to help get you started.

Design+Code — Learn how to do it all on your own. This beautifully designed e-book will walk you through the process of building your own app, step-by-step, using Sketch and Xcode. Highly recommended.

Sketch — Sketch is a professional vector graphics app with a beautiful interface and powerful tools. Sketch is not only affordable, but extremely intuitive when it comes to creating user interfaces in a flash.

Startup Weekend — A weekend-long event where developers, business managers, startup enthusiasts, marketing gurus, and graphic artists pitch ideas for new startup companies, form teams around those ideas, and work to develop a working prototype, demo, or presentation by Sunday evening. Look for a StartupWeekend happening in your city!

BuildItWithMe — A tool that connects design and development entrepreneurs. It exists to make creating apps easier by connecting you with like-minded designers and developers with the same goal: create cool and useful apps.

Designer Fund — A community of designers who invest in designer founders through mentorship, funding, and access to the network.


My name is Dustin Rogers. I’m an interactive designer and appreneur in Columbus, Ohio. I enjoy meeting new people in the startup community and spend a lot of time drawing, running and dreaming up new ideas.

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