Dear Microsoft Singapore: Your EDMs Look Like Shit. Hire a Designer?

On the 15th November, I, along with all the others on the Microsoft Singapore mailing list received this:

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 1.58.06 pm

msft edm 1

Today, I received this:

msft edm 2

You work for Microsoft, a billion dollar tech company, not some back alley IT consulting firm. Take some pride in your work man.

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A Developer’s Love Hate Relationship with Design

One of my fav podcasts on Design

One of my fav podcasts on Design

There’s a reason why front end frameworks like Bootstrap and Zurb Foundation were embraced with open arms by developers all around the world. It allowed us, design clueless devs, to get something passable up in a very short period of time. But really, we all know deep down it’s a temporary fix till the web designer shows up.

I think instinctively, we all have an innate feel for something that is either pretty or ugly. We might not be able to vocalise exactly what aspects of the subject is breathtakingly beautiful or unceremoniously ugly, but we know it to be true all the same. So begins my quest to plug this knowledge gap on what constitutes good design and how can I implement it?

In my search to find the right vocabulary to articulate such feels, I went on a binge reading spree. The one book that probably sticks out the most is Design of Everyday Things. It’s a pretty good book and it made me so much more acutely aware of my physical space.

After books, I ventured on to online resources and there’s a shit ton of information out there. As a developer, I appreciated posts targeted specifically at me such as Design For Developers and Design for Developers. Yes — they both go by the same name. There are also courses such as Hack Design.

In addition to books and online resources, I came across a series of documentaries made by Gary Hustwit. They are Helvetica, Objectified and Urbanized. I haven’t watched them yet but I’ve heard good things about Helvetica. Objectified was referred to me by hackdesign.org. I’m probably gonna marathon all three this weekend.

Which leaves us with our last medium — audio. With that, there can be no doubt which podcast reigns supreme. 99% Invisible is one of my favourite podcasts — the other being Radiolab but you knew that already.

Design is often championed as one leg in a 3 legged stool with the other two being dev and marketing/sales. Strangely enough, it’s still the most neglected of the 3. More so in SE Asia where I am from. This dearth of awareness as to what constitutes good design and the importance of good design, has led me and some other fine folks to organise Design 101 for Web & Mobile Product Owners, Managers and Developers. It’s a one day crash course in design aimed not only at devs but anyone who works with web and mobile related products.

Hopefully I’ll start to see the light soon — my eyes can’t take anymore of my bad designs. If this isn’t scratching your own itch, I don’t know what is.