How to consume your way to being the best designer

By October 27, 2016design, process

In the past year and a half there is one thing I can attest to pushing my design further than anything else: consuming content. My learning, professional development and industry knowledge has grown through reading articles and other resources freely available on the web.

Thanks to the explosion of content marketing companies are falling over themselves to provide you with their most valuable content. The hope being you will use their product or service, remember their brand, or share it with your peers.

There is so much free content available with no obligation to buy. You can easily find resources that are better than any course or book, up-to-the-second latest news and industry developments, and insights and ideas from leading industry experts.

My favourite free content resources

You’ll find a plethora of content for your specific interests with a bit of digging. I’ve learned about topics that aren’t related to my specific role, but help in my professional growth, such as time management, business strategy and motivation. Below are my favourite resources:

  • InvisionApp Blog: The best resource there is out there in the design world, but always something for everyone
  • Shopify Blog: They have great tips for entrepreneurs and online retailers. I love their insights on creating websites
  • Trello Blog: Great articles on productivity, remote work and processes

There are also millions of free articles available through platforms like:

These services also recommend other content based off of the articles you read.

How to consume the content

With all the great content out there the problem becomes managing it all.

I’ve been using the Pocket app. As you find articles, pages and information you are interested in reading, add them to your virtual Pocket.

The benefits of the Pocket app:

  • Add articles to your virtual “Pocket” to read at a later time
  • Articles are downloaded for offline reading (like when you don’t have internet connection on a plane flight)
  • Provides a distraction-free reading environment and removes advertising
  • Syncs between your browser and all devices (phone, iPad, desktop etc)
  • Articles you’ve read are kept in an archived list to refer back to them later
  • Pocket brings together all online sources: news and blog articles, Medium and LinkedIn posts
  • No more emailing articles to yourself, or endless folders of bookmarks (you never actually get to)
  • Recommend articles to others, and follow their recommendations

consume-content-pocketapp

I highly recommend it! It’s a free app (and I am not getting anything for recommending it).

The additional benefit for me is that Pocket will sync over wifi to my Kobo. I read through my Pocket on my transit to work on the glare-free e-reader screen.

Pro Tip: Beware the ‘free’ ebook

I’ve learned this one the hard way: never download the ‘free’ ebook, especially ones that require your email address. These are all very similar content (often written by the same company as part of a marketing package) and hold little to no valuable content. They are farming your email address for marketing purposes.

If something is asking for your email address before proving its value, chances are it isn’t worth it. When you find blogs and resources that you love, you’ll be happy to give them your information (that is how content marketing works after all). Valuable content marketing doesn’t rely on these gimmicks.

Get your learning on!

There are online courses, how-to blogs, in-depth studies, new ideas and approaches on endless topics ready for you to explore. You may even learn about a new product or service (just take it with a grain of salt).

To learn more about content marketing and why it is such hot topic right now, read: How to Make Content Marketing Successful (and Profitable) by Pam Berg.

I’ve written articles sharing my expertise if you’re interested:

  1. The UX of plane flights: web design mistakes to avoid
  2. Instagram tips and hacks: 8 ideas for small business
  3. UX vs. UI: how they work together in web design
  4. How to tell clients they are wrong: the art of pushback
  5. How great feedback fuels great website design
  6. and see what I am recommending on Pocket

Share quotes and your favourite articles with team mates and peers, or through social media! The sharing attitude is infectious. Create a sharing environment with your work colleagues and you will all be better for it, and who knows what they may share with you. Happy learning!