Learning code = Becoming a super powerful product designer

Yay I Made this Using Javascript


My notes on becoming a product designer & learning coding (draft notes: will revise)

I think I’ve opened a new world up when I learned how to make tables using Javascript, in order to create dynamic web pages.  While I’m still learning javascript, I want to offer my personal thoughts on why I have to code in order to be a product/ux designer.

Previously, if I wanted to communicate my ideas across, the tools I had are limited to words, sketches, drawings, wireframes, Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator/InDesign/etc.

These are tools that are restrictive of an era of the past, when pages were static. Now, many of our consumer & enterprise goods/products are becoming more and more digital. This movement is restructuring how we live, work, and play in our planet. This pace is so fast that being able to prototype, test out a digital product quickly to accurately reflect a person’s needs is becoming ever so important.

From a personal perspective, yes, it’s hard to learn how to programming. Not coming from a coding background, there are times (see here: https://giveit100.com/@fncischen/yqksun ) where I spend an entire day just on seven lines of code.

You need to know your medium and constantly churn out bad code in order to become comfortable doing hundreds of iterations in one hour. Sometimes it does take that many iterations of a product in order to be good at what you do.

The skillset of being able to build what we design will not only help us work well with developers, but also be able to accurately build a product people will use.

Before learning to code, I mostly communicated through static drawings/images (see here: my portfolio). This process reflects design standards of the past, but does not take into account the dynamic effects of digital products / web applications / interactions. These little things affect how users interact with the digital devices we see.

Static drawings don’t take into account those psychological effects, and thus are a low-efficient method of documenting/prototyping the user experience. It is harder to prototype  & build on top of it, if you aren’t aware of those experiences.

I’ll be documenting this process in more detail and seeing what outcomes I get once I get a working prototype.

A great designer is

What can a great designer do?

A great designer is a great storyteller; by telling a great story, she can create a vision and guide the direction of a product, a lifestyle, that improves the way we live, work, and play.

A great designer is a great communicator, who knows how to speaks and interacts across different sectors, cultures, and demographics.

A great designer is patient, and is empathetic to a person’s needs and concerns. She places herself in the user’s shoes, and constantly places the user in the steering wheel, observing how he/she interacts with the environment, what are her strengths and constraints.

She knows what makes the person tick, and how to make that person tick; by understanding how he or she ticks, she is able to design the product, the service, based on the user’s perspective. Thus,a great designer constantly takes in feedback, critiques, and observations from the user.

She iterates, redesigns, and is a problem-solver. She focuses and simplifies to the core problem, and is obsessed with the way the problem and solution is communicated. A great designer knows that solving a problem comes with a good story that people can relate to. Connecting to her audience is key.

A great designer is comfortable with the techniques that she has learned that help him build and test his idea. She constantly is trying out new material, looking at existing material and what has been already designed, and plays with the material, tweaks with it, and tests it out in a new environment.

Thus, a great designer is a problem solver. She guides, she builds, she makes mistakes, she always asks for feedback, she tests. She connects with her audience, and she aims to make the world a better place.

TEDxTaipei 2013: City of Heartbeats

The TEDxTaipei page recently created a page on a TEDxTaipei event in Daodecheng: City of Heartbeats. A lot of talks are in English, and explicitly tackle with issues related to urban development, environmental sustainability, and design issues. Here’s a bio of the speakers.

Never heard a TEDxTalk that summarized my interests in city planning in Chinese so detailed.

But at the same time, I believe a lot of city planning is still backwards in terms of thinking about cities like this. They are too wrapped in policy, regulation, and property development and profits (as the first video shows) that we forget how to spark imagination about how to make our lives better.

My rationale to go to Taiwan is simple: I want to get a different perspective of the world, meeting other people. In other words, can traveling give me an opportunity, some reflection time, on how to approach city planning in an alternative way?