Review: The Design Method: A Philosophy and Process for Functional Visual Communication

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The Design Method: A Philosophy and Process for Functional Visual Communication (Voices That Matter) by Eric Karjaluoto is from New Riders (2013). This book changed my impression of myself as a web designer.

Prior to reading this book, I would have told you I wasn’t a designer. My designs were super simple, even plain. There were no cute little graphics all over the place, no lush backgrounds or images, no clever metaphors. If you’re reading this on my blog, you’re looking at what I think is a good design right now. Plain, white background with black text, clear in purpose and easy to read and navigate.

Turns out that Eric Karjalouto considers my choices to be design choices. He says design isn’t about how decorated or beautiful something is, but instead is about how something does what it is meant to do. In terms of a web design, that means communicate.

It takes Karjaluoto about 10 seconds to debunk the myth that design is about visual beauty and a number of other commonly held beliefs about design. He says it’s about making things. He calls it a problem solving process that helps facilitate desired outcomes.

The book describes his problem solving process and is a practical outline of the step by step work needed to discover what outcome a design is meant to produce and then discover a way to make that happen. In that sense, his design method gives you a map that will help you create a design process that works and help you run a successful design business. There are checklists, systems thinking and steps, and details about everything from using his design method for discovery, planning, creating, and applying ideas. He also helps with ideas on how to present designs to clients.

The book would be particularly helpful to designers who are struggling to build a business that makes money. It gives steps, processes, client interview techniques, testing techniques, and all kinds of ideas that a firm can use to build designs that work, and therefore a company that works.

A review by Virginia DeBolt of The Design Method (rating: 5 stars)

Summary: Practical not precious. Advice for getting things done.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for this review. Opinions are my own. Links to Amazon are affiliate links. Here is my review policy.

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