Today's technology makes it easier than ever for anyone to be a designer, or at least call themselves one of any combination of titles: Graphic designer, art director, commercial artist, visual communicator, content creator. The list goes on. But design isn't only about making things look good. A designer's job is to focus on meaning, how it can be created and communicated. To understand how products are sold and marketed. To evaluate business problems and solve them with creative ideas and processes. Like the list of titles, this too goes on and on.
The majority of design education and advice has poorly positioned the role of the designer. Too few designers develop the necessary understanding of design not as art but as business. Roughly halfway through my journey—when I began to teach others about design—I started to see this gap and made an effort (in my classrooms) to drive design education toward strategic problem solving and away from creative expression. This book is my attempt to do that on a larger scale.
This book is dedicated to the designer who not only wants to be good at design but also wants to understand what that really means. Whether you're a student, you're five years into an agency job and still floundering to find confidence, ten years in and considering career reinvention, or feeling stale and burnt out from decades of poor collaboration and deadline fatigue, this can act as a companion throughout your journey.
Especially if you're navigating your design education alone.
But it's also for the design curious and the design adjacent. If you run a business or organization and want to deepen how you use design or design thinking to create results, improve the way you work with designers, or even approach leadership, this book is for you. If your loved one is a designer and you feel far removed from what they do, this resource will help you better understand their world. If you want to get better at working with clients, there's a lot of great advice here on building better relationships.
While this book may be written and marketed specifically to a design audience, that doesn't mean it wasn't written for a baker, or a financial advisor, or an entrepreneur. At its core, design is creative problem-solving, and there's an endless need for skilled problem-solvers well outside the confines of design. So if you're a curious, analytical, strategic person who likes to break things down to understand them better; an individual who thrives on collaborating and solving problems with other people; or just someone who wants to feed yourself with lots of different knowledge, then you'll find a lot of value here.
What makes design successful is knowledge that everyone can benefit from, as design touches all aspects of our everyday life. At the end of the day, we're always learning and trying to be better at whatever it is we do. Designers never really leave design school.