The Best First Reading to Understand Design for Everyone
What is good design?
It’s a simple question that demands not-so-simple answers.
To answer it in the most basic way, you have to clarify at least two more basic questions:
- What is “good”?
- And what is “design”?
Only when you get down to the basics may you realize that, sometimes seemingly simple things can be very hard to explain—at least to do it successfully.
Fortunately, Scott Berkun, the author universally recognized for explaining complex things (innovation, project management, public speaking, and remote work) in stylishly concise and universally comprehensible ways, decided to take on the task of explaining good design to everyone.
And he has succeeded wonderfully in his wonderful book How Design Makes the World.
Concise in Words, Rich in Meaning
It’s short, in a “so good you feel the cool breeze in summer” way.
While the twenty chapters of the book go a long way from explaining the concept of design to making a better world with design, each chapter is merely a few-minute read.
Now here’s something you might have learned from a writing course: it’s very hard to be concise in words AND rich in meaning.
Scott did that in this book, as well as in his previous books, particularly the equally wonderful The Dance of the Possible: The Mostly Honest Completely Irreverent Guide to Creativity.
A fast reader might finish the book in under 60 minutes, while there’s a lot to taste, chew on, and think further.
Reading this book, you learn something fast and frequent. And you keep thinking about the implications long after.
Explain by Example, Argue with Evidence
Out of twenty chapters, nineteen are topic based, each driven by stories.
From the fire of Notre-Dame cathedral in chapter 1, to “alarm fatigue” in medical facilities in chapter 19, the author makes every one of his key points by immersing you in real histories and backing up with concrete evidence.
It’s easy to understand and remember, and even easier to provoke your thoughts.
Broad Perspectives, Sharp Focus
From the universal idea of design to the societal impact of design solutions, the author covers a lot of topics in twenty short chapters.
Every chapter builds up your mental muscle towards a deeper understanding of design and its practitioners.
All that you need to see the world through the lens of design, and to act accordingly.
Is This the Book for you?
According to the author himself, this book helps you understand design, while it doesn’t teach you how to be a designer.
It’s the first step to approach design, regardless of your bigger goal.
As a designer I earned my understanding of design over the years, by making embarrassing mistakes and pissing off executives.
I was on the verge of writing such a book myself.
Now I don’t have to. I simply point to /How Design Makes the World/ for anyone in need.
This is the book I absolutely wish I could have read long before my design career.
For Designers and Stakeholders
This book is a very useful rhetorical weapon for designers, or anyone who wants to make a case for design.
Dozens of memorable stories and thought-provoking examples throughout the book feed you the leverage to propose, argue, defend, or convince around the topic of design.
Chapter 20 gives you a check list to apply what you’ve learned in life, work, and everything in between.
The author has also created a website for all of us to take action, to continue our conversations and learnings.
At the end of day, taking action with what we’ve learned is perhaps the biggest gift this book delivers.
Five star and highly recommended!