Learning the Language of Design

I have never considered myself a great wordsmith. Whenever I pour over articles online or immerse myself in a new book, I tend to think to myself “I wish I was capable of that”.

It used to not bother me so much. I once believed that my role as a designer was to make or change things based on the way they look. But I quickly realised design requires much more than this.

Design is communication. It is our job to help people promote their ideas to the world in a clear and valuable way. To do that properly, we must immerse ourselves in the language of others, from business owners to product managers, developers and customers — whoever they may be.

As Debbie Millman once reminded me…

“Everything fuels design.”

That’s why I read books on business strategy, listen to podcasts on human psychology and spend hours in front of a code-editor. Not only is the information I glean an asset to productive communication with others, but it is also endlessly fascinating.

Good design doesn’t come from working alone, but through collaboration with those around us. Pooling the knowledge of teams to create new ideas, critique existing ones, define great brands and build great products.

Conversation is an intrinsic part of human nature.

As designers we all know the value of visualising our ideas to create shared understanding, but written language is equally important too. More and more I realise the value of language in design.

That’s why, when I found myself at the end of another article thinking “I wish I could have written that”, I chose to do what anyone would when they want to learn a new skill. I started to practice. This is my first step, and I’m sure it won’t be the last I take.

So here I am, putting my writing out into the world (wide web). If nothing more than for the hope that it makes me a little better at something tomorrow, than I was at it today.


Thanks for reading!