Why Hack Design Is Important
I believe the worlds of designers and developers are not as dissimilar as people think. Both cultures immerse themselves in technical professions, sometimes carrying a certain amount of elitism, but always with a passion for craft, self-betterment, and pushing the boundaries of what's possible.
It's unfortunate, dare I say disastrous, when that elitism hinders the interest within curious outsiders to learn. Coupled with unknown unknowns (ie: “I don't know what I don't know”) learning a new skill from scratch can be hard – especially when there's no starting point. Humans are also inherently lazy; most New Years Resolutions never ever make it into February. Self-betterment is tough to stick with when life gets in the way. Sites like Code Year and Treehouse have made some progress in this area, but I'm certain there's a way to hack the retention issue.
I'm co-founding a project called Hack Design which aims to solve this problem. Every week we send out 5 links relevant to a specific and actionable area of design. This leverages only the best design content around the Web, and allows us to partner with the world's top designers to curate this content with us.
For our users, it's just like a hyper-focused RSS feed; but it never gets out of control. There are no points, no leaderboards, no gamification. The onus is on the programmers to take the resources and learn at their own pace. Since we're just linking to outside content, they'll learn on their own who to follow, who the best design thinkers are, and what resources they feel are most helpful.
It's not a new year's resolution, and it's not a full-fledged design course. The current iteration of Hack Design is easy enough to follow along each week, with minimal mental equity required to stay up-to-date. Many people will drop off, but even for just a handful who stick around long enough to learn what they need to learn to make their projects better, we're still making a huge impact on those people. We're not solving design education, but we are hacking the starting point. If you learn what you don't know, you can do something about it.
Try it out and let me know what you think.