MIKE MONTEIRO is a man on a mission. He wants to improve design by fixing the core of it, which is the relationship between designer and client. Too many of us fear our clients—the people whose money keeps our lights on, and who hire us to solve business problems they can’t solve for themselves. And too many clients are even more frustrated and puzzled by their designers than the designers are by the clients.
It’s the designer’s job to fix this, which is why Mike first wrote Design Is A Job, and spent two years taking the message into conference halls and meeting rooms from New Zealand to New York.
I wish every designer could read this book. I can’t tell you how many friends of mine—many of whom I consider far better designers than I am—struggle every day with terrible anxieties over how a client will react to their work. And the problem isn’t limited to web and interaction designers. Anybody who designs anything burns cycles in fear and acrimony. I too waste hours worrying about the client’s reaction—but a dip into Mike’s first book relaxes me like a warm milk bath, and reminds me that collaboration and persuasion are the essence of my craft and well within my power to execute.
If the designer’s side of things were the only part of the problem Mike had addressed, it would be enough. But there is more:
Next Mike will help clients understand what they should expect from a designer and learn how to hire one they can work with. How he will do that is still a secret—although folks attending An Event Apart San Francisco this week will get a clue.
Design education is the third leg of the chair, and once he has spread his message to clients, Mike intends to fix that or die trying. As Mike sees it (and I agree) too many design programs turn out students who can defend their work in an academic critique session among their peers, but have no idea how to talk to clients and no comprehension of their problems. We are creating a generation of skilled and talented but only semi-employable designers—designers who, unless they have the luck to learn what their expensive education didn’t teach them, will have miserably frustrating careers and turn out sub-par work that doesn’t solve their clients’ problems.
We web and interaction designers are always seeking to understand our user, and to solve the user’s problems with empathy and compassion. Perhaps we should start with the user who hires us.
Notes and Images from An Event Apart San Francisco
THE SEVENTH and final An Event Apart show of the year 2012—three days of forward thinking and inspiring insights on multi-device design, content strategy for mobile, the next CSS, and more—is now winding down at San Francisco’s Palace Hotel. The show may end, but the memories will linger … enhanced by digital artifacts like these:
Thirty-one percent of Americans who access the internet from a mobile device say that’s the way they always or mostly go online. For this group, if your content doesn’t exist on mobile, it doesn’t exist at all. The U.S. government has responded with a broad initiative to make federal website content mobile-friendly. Karen McGrane explains why this matters—and what you can learn from it.
Making your content mobile-ready isn’t easy, but if you take the time now to examine your content and structure it for maximum flexibility and reuse, you’ll have stripped away all the bad, irrelevant bits, and be better prepared the next time a new gadget rolls around. This excerpt from Karen McGrane’s new book, Content Strategy for Mobile, will help you get started.
Help Hurricane Sandy relief efforts
Fifteen percent of sales of Karen McGrane’s Content Strategy for Mobile and other A Book Apart books sold today will go to the Red Cross in its effort to aid victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Mike Monteiro’s “Design Is A Job” is finally available to buy or preview.
CO-FOUNDER of Mule Design and raconteur Mike Monteiro wants to help you do your job better. From contracts to selling design, from working with clients to working with each other, his brief book Design Is A Job is packed with knowledge you need to know. This is one of the most in-demand titles we at A Book Apart have yet published, and the long, long wait for its release (and yours) is finally over!
It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas: An Event Apart San Francisco, Palace Hotel, Dec. 12-14
HERE I AM at the Palace on Market Street for another thrilling installment of An Event Apart.
An Event Apart San Francisco features twelve great speakers and sessions. Following the two-day conference comes an intense learning session on Mobile Web Design led by Luke Wroblewski (author, Web Form Design).
Starting Monday, December 12, 2011, follow the live Twitter stream on A FEED APART, the official feed aggregator for An Event Apart.
Hum along to the interstitial AEA Playlist on Last.fm or Rdio.
A Book Apart holiday sale: 30% off entire collection
THE FIRST SIX essential new classics from A Book Apart — brilliant, brief books by Jeremy Keith, Dan Cederholm, Erin Kissane, Ethan Marcotte, Aarron Walter, and Luke Wroblewski — make the perfect gift for the web geek in your life. During our holiday sale, buy all six books and save 30%!
CONGRATULATIONS TO A List Apart technical editors Aaron Gustafson and Ethan Marcotte, whose Adaptive Web Design and Responsive Web Design were ranked #1 and #2 in .net Magazine’s “Top 25 Books for Web Designers and Developers” of 2011.
Other top-ranked web design books include CSS3 for Web Designers by Dan Cederholm, Designing for the Digital Age by Kim Goodwin, and Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug.
Four of the top 25 were A Book Apart books: namely, Responsive Web Design, CSS3 for Web Designers, Mobile First by Luke Wroblewski, and The Elements of Content Strategy by Erin Kissane.
I contributed to the article but did not nominate any A Book Apart books.
A Book Apart: Designing for Emotion & Mobile First
WE ARE THRILLED to present the two newest volumes from A Book Apart (“brief books for people who make websites”):
Make your users fall in love with your site or application via the precepts packed into Aarron Walter’s new Designing for Emotion. From classic psychology to case studies, highbrow concepts to common sense, DfE demonstrates accessible strategies and memorable methods to help you make a human connection through design.
Learn data-driven techniques that will make you a master of mobile with Mobile First. Former Yahoo! design architect and co-creator of Bagcheck, Luke Wroblewski knows more about mobile experience than the rest of us, and packs all he knows into this entertaining, to-the-point guidebook.
For a limited time, save 15% when you buy both together!
IN AN EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT from his new book, Designing For Emotion, Aarron Walter shows how to turn design interactions into conversations, imbue mechanical “interactions” with human elements, and use design and language techniques to craft a living personality for your website or application.
A List Apart: Organizing Mobile by Luke Wroblewski
THE ORGANIZATION OF MOBILE web experiences must align with how people use their mobile devices and why; emphasize content over navigation; provide relevant options for exploration and pivoting; maintain clarity and focus; and align with mobile behaviors. In this excerpt from his brand new A Book Apart book, Luke Wroblewski explains how.