How to Bridge the Design Gap

If you work with designers or aspire to, you must know their language in order to move projects along faster. This article explores how non-designers like entrepreneurs, marketers, and project managers can acquire the design skills they need to bridge the design gap. To dig into the topic, we spoke with professionals worldwide who have taught themselves design skills and work with designers often. From online programs taken in their spare time to institutionalized design training for the whole company, here’s what they had to say about gaining design skills to bridge the gap.

Start with Online Courses

Get Certified with Design Tools

There are so many design tools you could learn. Ask a designer for recommendations on where to start.

After taking some online courses and trainings, you’re sure to have many questions. The next step is to get a two-way communication channel going with designers in your life to better understand what you learned and figure out how to turn theories and workflows into actual designs.

Don’t Forget About the Human Connection

Dive into the Theory Behind the Trends

Tsimaraki continues, “If you learn the theory, you’ll be able to understand what designers are telling you. And if you understand how that theory takes shape in real-life designs, you’ll also be able to understand why designers make certain choices.” A multi-pronged strategy is necessary to really become a design ally, but any of these ideas can stand on their own to get you further up to speed with how a design team works.

Take some time to read up on design theory to give additional context to any online courses you take.

Design Skills Should Be Baked Into Company Culture

Some companies like to do “lunch and learn” informal training with members of other teams to help them understand what they work on and how they approach it. Beyond learning design terms to better explain what features you’re looking for, Daivat Dholakia, Director of Operations, Force by Mojio, advises: “You also need to be familiar with the software they use, grasp basic design concepts, and know-how to think like a designer. My company has designers working side-by-side with tech hires, so we know how important it is to facilitate those connections. That’s why we provide opportunities for non-designers to receive entry-level training in Sketch and the Adobe suite. At these sessions, non-designers can build a basic vocabulary around the tools and ideas that designers use regularly… Our ultimate goal isn’t to cross-train everyone as a designer. It’s to ensure that we can understand each other and know how to make recommendations or request changes. For the same reason, we provide opportunities for our designers to learn more technical skills like coding.”

Dholakia brings up an important concept; better understanding members of adjacent teams makes collaboration that much more effective. And it needs to go both ways. Developers and designers can and should get along better. When there is a mutual understanding of what is feasible and how long it takes, it’s much easier to make reasonable asks and finish projects on time. The main reason other team members need to acquire design skills is that they will be enabled to make more pointed requests. When a designer’s workflow is fully understood, other team members can make asks that fit the scope and timeframe they can work within.

When more people on your team have design skills and foundations, everyone can do better work.

Empower The Whole Team with Design Skills

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Closing Thoughts

Have to bridge the design gap that we missed? Let us know by tweeting us @Protoio.

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Originally published at https://blog.proto.io on June 2, 2021.

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