5 Design Resources Everyone Needs

If you were to ask any designer working in almost any industry, they would likely tell you the same thing: this book is a must-read. Don Norman, a cognitive scientist and usability engineer, talks about how design works as communication between the user and an object. Too often people assume that when they fail to use something correctly, it's immediately user error. This book explains principles behind design and many objects lack an intuitive design.  

Available from Amazon, $10.89.

2. Design Matters from Debbie Millman

Debbie Millman is a household name in the design world. She was named “one of the most influential designers working today” by Graphic Design USA, and “one of the most creative people working in business” by Fast Company. She hosts the podcast, Design Matters, which is described as: "The world's first podcast about design and an inquiry into the broader world of creative culture through wide-ranging conversations with designers, writers, artists, curators, musicians, and other luminaries of contemporary thought." The podcast is available for free to listen online and is done in an interview-style. Debbie talks with a variety of designers and creatives, providing insight and new perspectives. It's a great way to learn about how these influential creatives think and how they are impacting the world.

3. Helvetica, the design documentary

While a video about a typeface might sound boring, I assure you Helvetica is anything but dull. As the Chicago Tribune commented, "The real achievement of the film is the way it sharpens your eye in general and makes connections between form and content, and between art and life." The film walks you through the evolution of typography, graphic design and global visual culture. Helvetica was a font that really changed the world, and through this documentary you can see how design choices influence major movements in our culture. 

Watch online for $5.99. It's also available to watch for free through Lynda.

4. A basic color wheel

This may sound rather elementary, but color wheels are imperative for designers of all sorts. You may recall the round rainbow tool from your primary school art class, but the core rules outlined on them play a role in design decisions made every day. Understanding color theory and why designers use certain colors may take some studying, but getting a core baseline for what colors work together and how different relationships work with color can help you make better color choices. And that is the kind of knowledge that helps when you decide what shirt to buy, what color to paint your living room and how the colors in your decor work together (or don't).

A basic color wheel is less than $7 on Amazon.

5. The Design Observer website


In October 2016, AIGA joined forces with Design Observer. AIGA is the professional association for design, and Design Observer is a website dedicated to writing about a range of design topics, including graphic design, social innovation and criticism. The joining of these two organizations allows for more content to be created and curated. It's a great resource for learning more about design, the design community, hot topics and conferences. 

See more at their website, designobserver.com.