This was a question posed by a colleague in a Facebook group I’m a member of.
I learned HTML and CSS from reading books and practicing the lessons in them. I learned Photoshop by reading and watching tutorials online. FINALLY, I went to school and learned what design was all about—problem-solving!
Graphic design, layouts, they are all about guiding someone’s eye and leading their thoughts to a conclusion—click, follow, sign up, buy, call, email.
The same as a road sign is designed to lead you somewhere with only one or two words and a symbol, so is the concept of design in general—trying to lead observers to a conclusion without a barrage of words.
Good design is not about seeing how others do it, but learning about how to think like a designer to solve problems. If you just want things to look pretty—you’re an artist. Remember, you don’t design for your client, you design for THEIR customers. Remind your clients of this as well.
Go to school or look up free design classes online. It’s more about thinking like a designer than it is about slapping colors and shapes together.
If you don’t want to go to school, go online. There are tons of free courses on Future Learn, not just about design, but technology and more: https://www.futurelearn.com/
Fun recommendation—watch some documentaries on design:
Objectified, Helvetica and Beautiful Losers was shown during my stint in design school.
Also, buy this book!
‘Graphic Design: The New Basics’ is the designer’s field guide, so to speak. Read it thoroughly once or twice, then keep it handy for inspiration, guidance and clarity.
…and learn about Gestalt Theory.
“Gestalt psychology or gestaltism is a theory of mind of the Berlin School of experimental psychology. Gestalt psychology tries to understand the laws of our ability to acquire and maintain meaningful perceptions in an apparently chaotic world. The central principle of gestalt psychology is that the mind forms a global whole with self-organizing tendencies.”
—Wikipedia’s definition of Gestalt
Learn about how to use it here: