I read a quote once that went something like: When we start designing and you hate what you are creating, or you think what you are creating is crap, this is just because your taste in design is higher than your skill and with practice you can get continuously better to a point where they are equal, that is when you start creating things you like.
I have always felt I sucked at art, I could never draw to save my life, I still can't actually. You know in the movies when the Bad guy has a impossible task for the good guy and has him at gun point and literally tells him to accomplish a task with a laptop with one hand strapped behind his back or him or his loved one would die? Yeah if you wanna kill me just ask me to draw a tree or something. LOL
Although I have always sucked I actually appreciate Art a lot, it makes a lot of sense to me and I could spot great art a mile away. When I started programming I was drawn to the front-end because that is what humans directly interacted with and for me creating software is about affecting human lives. I have always liked how design makes people interact with things and how it makes people feel, I always felt I was doomed to be a spectator of great design, but over time with a lot of effort and a lot of help from supportive friends and co-workers I got better.
Looking at the website I designed and created for a client (Screenshot above) over the past couple of weeks, I was happy with what I created. This job was particularly fun because unlike most of my programming jobs this one allowed me to stretch the design side of my brain, I got to play with colors, direct the photography and manipulate images and layouts. I got to use a lot of the concepts I have been learning in the field and on a larger scale. I am no Da Vinci by any stretch of the imagination but I realized I have gotten to the stage where I am no longer ashamed of my design work. There is still a lot of growing to do and I continue to work hard at it everyday, but getting the right mindset and getting of the ground initially was the hardest part. For those of you out there that feel like me in the beginning, I have compiled a list of reading that helped me get over the initial inertia, in hopes that it can help someone else too.
Design of Everyday things: Helped me understand the psychological effects of design on people and why some designs of products make people happy while others frustrate people.
Design for Hackers: This is design explained from a programmer’s perspective, it basically teaches you design with an engineering take on things, re-enforcing the idea that design can be engineered. This book focuses on web interface design and is filled with a lot of well known design concepts adopted for the web.
Steal like an Artist: This showed me how I could steal ideas from other people I admire and remix their work to my style, allowing me to have my own style and be original in my own way... even though nothing is really original :)
Design for Startups: This is a thorough blog post by Paul Stamatiou that was very influential to me at the time, the biggest thing I took away from it was the need for subtlety in design and he also has a truck load of reading at the end of post too.