With the rise and on-going success of artificial intelligence technology, chatbots and interactive design, communication is being brought even further to the forefront of product design. In my opinion, a lot of the reason behind successes and failures in these mediums is down to the interface language that is presented before the user, in combination with a lack of research conducted to actually understand the audience. One clear way to solve this would be learning to write in a way that connects with your user and learning to read and research in a way that enables you to understand them.
A big problem with this though, is that few designers are actually trained to ‘write’. When I was studying at university, we were tasked with a dissertation and a few additional essay assignments over the course of the three years to get us in the mind-set of writing, but it wasn’t until I actually started doing this job that I realised the importance of writing as a crucial skill that needs to be displayed on my CV. Writing is a way of communicating and clarifying your thoughts, it gives you a voice no matter where you are or what you’re doing.
I think a way for us designers to become better writers, is not only with practise but by reading as well, which brings me to the main point of this article. Reading the wisdom and work of others, getting a better understanding of how language is used and how ideas are articulated will all help with curating your own way of writing and perhaps even opening your mind to different ways of thinking a long the way.
Here are a few books that I would recommend to get you started…
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
Robert B. Cialdini
The ultimate guide to understanding the reasons why we say “yes”. This book is a winner for me as it offers you a profound insight into making decisions and what motivates us to make the decisions we make. This is something that can be brought across every aspect of your life.
Ways of Seeing
This book was recommended to me by one of my old university tutors and it took me a couple of reads to get my head around it, but when I did it just blew me away. This book in my opinion is one of the greatest insights in the way we perceive art that I’ve ever come across. This is summarised for me in the book’s opening sentence…
“Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak.”
The Art of Looking Sideways
This one is not for the faint hearted. Coming in at a whopping 583 pages (give or take) this book offers a comprehensive exploration into the workings and the relationship between the visual and verbal languages. I confess I’ve not been able to get through this one cover to cover yet, but I’ll get there!
Six Thinking Hats
Edward de Bono
Another book recommended to me by my tutors and funnily enough has been brought up recently here at work. Edward de Bono breaks down the different thinking modes of the brain and deliberates on how we can use them to be more productive and decisive. A true classic.
Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons
I borrowed this once off a friend but unfortunately still don’t own it myself yet! This one’s more a personal favourite of mine, as 1) ever since I was a child I’ve loved the idea of dragons and 2) the sheer amount of thought and imagination that has gone into this one is simply mind blowing! A perfect example of creativity at it’s finest…
Thanks for the read! Until the next time…