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014: Design Write with Khoi Vinh

User Defenders podcast

User Defenders "Mr. Subtraction" Khoi Vinh

Khoi Vinh teaches us that designers can do their best work by drawing on many different sources and working on different challenges simultaneously. A big fan of breaking large problems up into actionable chunks and making lists of all those things that need to get done, Vinh enjoys articulating the value of the design process to colleagues and executives. And for a guy with his hand in some of the latest new software tools for mobile, his advice for getting better at your design may surprise you: write.

Khoi Vinh (Mr. Subtraction) is an experience designer, prolific blogger, and the Principal Designer at Adobe. He has already and continues to make huge impacts in the creation of tools and methods toward designing on-the-go using mobile devices. He’s the former New York Times Design Director and one of the 50 most influential designers in America according to Fast Company. He’s also an author who’s written books like “Ordering Disorder”, “Grid Principles For Web Design”, and recently released “How They Got There” that interviews top designers and how they got where they are which is a great parallel and compliment to this show.

@Khoi on Twitter
Khoi’s Website
[MOVIE] Design is One: Lella & Massimo Vignelli
[BOOK] How They Got There by Khoi Vinh
[BOOK] The Inmates Are Running the Asylum by Alan Cooper

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Artwork: Cesar Lemus | Editing: Chris Combs | Prep: Win Goodbody | Music: Wyman Gentry

Use writing to find your own voice and approach hard design problems. If something gets too tough, never be afraid to walk away and take up another challenge. The other one will still be there waiting for you when you come back.

Start small, track the details, and work on lots of different skills to improve. No matter how exciting the technology, don’t forget there’s a user out there this is for. Does the design serve them?

Articulation. I can explain the value of the design process and how it works to colleagues and execs at all levels. This shared understanding helps everyone stay on the same page and move forward.

Design that takes itself too seriously and steals the spotlight from problem at hand.

Mr. Subtraction

At a big company like Adobe, designers have to keep the focus on users and what they are trying to achieve. Whatever I’m working on, I circle back to our customers all the time.

The mobile operating system is going to become the primary one, and we’ll not only be inhabiting mobile, we’ll be doing our design work there. A lot of mobile devices will become work devices for designers.

I’m a big fan of to do task management and have used Todoist for a decade. It really helps me track all the things I want to get done.

Write. Learn to articulate solutions in your own voice. And find friends and mentors to do it with.