I started programming around 14. My first program I was an animated smiley face in Delphi. I remember buying my first book, "PHP for Hackers," and creating my first website. Back then people still used tables and iframes for layouts, and Dreamweaver was a thing.
I remember sneaking with new issues of the "Hacker" magazine because I was afraid that parents might punish me for that. Later in my life, I would write articles for that magazine myself.
As you can see, working with computers was something I wanted to do since I was a kid. And my professional life revolved around information security for the past seven years.
At some point, I became interested in building and designing products, but it's hard to pinpoint the exact moment when it happened. I only remember that some day I understood that I wanted to do more productive (as in "production") and creative (as in "creation") work.
Understanding how products are created took all my free time for a few years. I packed a tight ball of dense professional experience into those years. I threw off the dust from my old programming books that I read in university, I watched hours of courses on market research, user research, product-market fit, startup evaluations, product metrics and so on. I read dozens on books on how to talk with people, how to make decisions, how to present your work. And I practiced all this on my own projects and shadowing my friends, who worked in this fields.
I loved designing. I found this field of finding problems and solving them with software fascinating.
The best thing about design is how it trickles into your real world. You cannot close your laptop and stop being a designer. There are too many places where your taste and the way you think will show themselves.
I still love programming. Interestingly, after learning more about design, I realized how close these two fields are. Writing (designing) good programs relies on the same brain machinery.
I have a few random thoughts that I'm unable to put into words yet. So I'll let them sit here for a while.
- I love simple software that does a few things well.
- Focusing solely on metrics makes products worse.
- People tend to measure what is easy to measure and ignore everything else.
- Modern education focuses too much on hard skills and too little on developing a person’s ability to think. More importantly, it conditions people to give what teachers want to hear. It punishes people for saying "I don't know".
- The pleasure from using something is useful. It took me a while to appreciate this. But as Charles Eames said, "rose functions when it smells".
- Sometimes you need to think really hard about a problem to solve it (like “sitting and writing” hard).
- Too many people work on unethical products.
- Designers should feel safe sharing their earliest drafts.