Can good design taste be taught?

Welcome back to my weekly digest of cool design-related stuff from around the web. If you missed the one from last week you can read it here. I’m still very busy trying to wrap up some things around the house before our twins arrive. This is probably the last newsletter that I’ll send out before I become a father. I’ll try to keep up with the weekly rhythm even once they’re here 🤞

Modern font stacks for system fonts

Have you ever used system fonts for a project that you worked on? There are many reasons why you’d want to do that, reducing the time it takes to load the website would be the main one. I did this when I designed the website for my project UX Buddy. I wanted the main font that I used for headings to really stand out so I decided to use the system font for body text. I think it turned out quite nice, the main font does stand out. I recently discovered Modern Font Stacks which is a tool to help you use system fonts correctly. What’s really cool about it is that it offers so many different style options. I had no idea so many system fonts were available! 🤯 You can choose from System UI, Transitional, Old Style, and 12 more styles. The tool even shows you which font is currently being used on your device, which ones aren’t available and which ones are. Really cool!

Are design bootcamps really a scam?

Next I want to share a controversial article about UX and Design Bootcamps, titled Design bootcamps are a scam. You can see right from the article’s title what it’s about. I never participated in a design bootcamp but I know people who have. I’ve reviewed portfolios from designers who were fresh out of bootcamps as part of interviewing candidates at work and mentoring students of my course UX Buddy. Ryan Ford, the author of the article argues that the main thing that these bootcamps can’t teach is good design taste. I agree. In fact, I think that even full-time university programmes can’t truly teach that. I would even add that these bootcamps can’t teach design common sense. Basically knowing what to do in different scenarios and why (I blogged in the past about how I feel privileged because I never had the opportunity to get a degree in design). The result? A lot of designers tend to follow the exact same process of solving problems.

Ryan rightly argues that bootcamps focus on teaching tangible skills. But the two things the two of us talk about (good design taste and design common sense) aren’t really skills. Or at least they’re not skills that can be taught in 10 weeks. They come with experience. And no, the bullshit project that design bootcamp participants complete is not enough experience. Ryan puts it best when he comes up with a formula for how to get good design taste: time + persistence × (opportunity × exposure) = Taste

Which jobs will AI replace?

Back to the AI taking our jobs panic. I just read AI and context: which jobs will it replace? Adam Nemeth argues that AI will replace some jobs and it won’t be the ones we hoped it would. So not hard labour or hard mental work, but the work that falls between these two. The question that comes to my mind is: where does design fall? We touched on good design taste and design common sense above—will AI be able to acquire those? I’m not sure, they seem quite subjective to me. Subjectivity is natural to humans, it would need to be taught to AI. If it’s hard to teach humans that, how hard will it be for AI? I guess there’ll be a point where that can be done. Are we there yet? I don’t think so. What do you think?

That’s it for this Monday. Be awesome! 👋

Matej Latin

I’m a self-taught designer proving that you don’t need a design degree to make a career in design. I went from doing boring graphic design work to working for big tech companies as a Product Designer. I thrive in the grey area between design and web development and I wrote a book about web typography for designers and web developers.

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