As a F-E Dev., how can I learn to design?

over 5 years ago from , UI Designer & UI Developer

I've been working as a Front-End Developer for 2.5 years and now I want to be able to design my side projects. I can do some little editings due to my psd-to-html experience but I want to go a few steps forward. I'm in need of resources right now, most of the tutorials I've found about Photoshop are about editing photos or some functions that I'll probably rarely use. And there are literally millions of "web design"-tagged tutorials also. Are there any paid/free courses about "web & mobile"-only design courses that you can recommend?



  • Marcus H, over 5 years ago


    I got interested in design when I realised I was useless and knew absolutely nothing about it or what looked nice. Here's is a look at my skills before I started learning (http://i.imgur.com/IbAs3YW.jpg), I thought that looked pretty sweet at the time and was quite proud of myself lol. I've got a Dribbble account now where my latest stuff is and I'm at around the 7 month mark of learning.


    Firstly I recommend a book the called "The Non-Designers Design Book" by Robin Williams (not the actor), it teaches you about CRAP (contrast, repetition, alignment and proximity) which is brilliant starting point to grow from. It started me along to path to where I am at the moment. I believe if you want to get good at this you need have an active interest in it and immerse yourself into learning about design.

    I'm sure you already do but make sure to read all the interesting design related articles you come across.

    You can also learn the fundamentals of graphic design at places like Lynda.com and Tutsplus as well as countless books that are too numerous to list.

    Once you have learnt some of the basics you should practice your skills regularly by creating fake website designs, I use Sketch but you can also use Fireworks, Illustrator or Photoshop (I recommend Sketch because of ease of use). A good way to practice is to find a design you like and try to recreate it in the program of your choice. If you do this enough you will probably learn skills along the way and start implementing them into your own designs without even realising it.

    Lastly you should visit places like Dribbble and Behance everyday and download the pictures of the designs you like and try to understand why they look good. Once you've trained your eye you'll look at design more critically and be able to notice little things that might irk you such as bad alignment etc. You should also learn about UX, I'm currently reading "Don't Make Me Think" by Steve Krug and it's brilliant. It's a book I've seen recommend by so many whenever somebody asks about UX.

    I'll post a few other resources I've found along the way :- https://hackdesign.org/https://medium.com/@erikdkennedy/7-rules-for-creating-gorgeous-ui-part-1-559d4e805cdahttps://medium.com/@erikdkennedy/7-rules-for-creating-gorgeous-ui-part-2-430de537ba96https://designschool.canva.com/blog/

    I'm far from great and still have a lot to still learn but I hope some of the stuff I've written above is helpful to you. I believe anybody can improve loads if the put the time into learning and practising. I've come from being completely useless and now I'm actually getting some paid UI design work here and there. If I can get better anybody can.

    Regards, Marcus

    1 point
  • Phil Pickering, over 5 years ago

    You might want to have a look at https://hackdesign.org/.

    Also, I'm studying "Essentials of Modern Web Design" at Thinkful which focuses on design and you only use Photoshop as a tool for web design - no photo-manipulation malarkey ;)


    Another similar course (which I might take in the future) is Design 101 over at DesignLab:


    1 point
  • Adam RobbinsAdam Robbins, over 5 years ago

    • Get comfortable with the software by trying to replicate things that you see and like. • Make things that excite you. Don't worry if you think they suck. I've been working in industry as a designer for 6 years since graduating with a Graphic Design BA and I still occasionally make things that suck. • Don't feel pressured by rules. There are so many design rules out there it's easy to feel crippled by the fear of breaking them. Read some rules and stick to the ones that make sense to you. After all you're working to please and excite yourself, and if you can't do that you won't please and excite your clients. • No one is born a designer. I suck at art. I can't paint or draw, and my handwriting sucks, yet I'm 6 years into a design career in London. • Don't push yourself. I learnt to code a few years back. I found the experience OK. I now don't code at all. After learning to code I found myself having to kick myself up the arse just to do more coding. It didn't excite me, I would never be as good as coding as I was a designer, so I stopped coding. Life's too short. If it doesn't excite you, or come semi-naturally, simply don't do it.

    0 points
    • Can Goktas, over 5 years ago

      It was so impressive. Thank you Adam, you made me question even my current status as a developer :)

      0 points
  • Loora Moora, over 5 years ago

    You are lucky because you already know a tool to design and manipulate UI but I think that the difficult part is to improve your aesthetic sense and to study some basic rules of a good style guide.

    I want to suggest you to give a look to https://designcode.io . It's about Sketch (a UI oriented manipulating tool) and about iOS app, but it's also about how to use colors, text, font, etc.

    0 points
    • Can GoktasCan Goktas, over 5 years ago

      Nice point. I've actually bought the DesignCode, but had no chance to go into it. Will definitely follow it, thanks!

      0 points
  • Karl NoelleKarl Noelle, over 5 years ago

    I'd recommend Treehouse: http://teamtreehouse.com/ Tons of great design courses for web + mobile.

    0 points