Everyone used to be a designer

Welcome to the latest edition of Designer’s digest! If you missed the previous one where we talked about problems with font sizes, you can read it here. This week we get back to the topic of designers possibly becoming obsolete.

In this newsletter:
🅰 Little big updates by Figma
🤬 Everyone used to be a designer (7 min read)
👌 Readability: the optimal line length (7 min read)

🅰 Little big updates
I just upgraded Figma recently but didn’t really take the time to see what’s new. But as I used it, I started noticing interesting new features that are great for getting typography right. I did some quick research and found the latest post about the little big updates to Figma. There are three key things in that update that interest me: leading trim or the ability to take away the extra vertical spacing in text, hanging punctuation which enables perfect horizontal rhythm by placing some punctuation outside of the body of the text, and starting numbered lists with other numbers so you can finally split a list of items into two columns and start it with 4 instead of 1. I’m thinking about writing a detailed post about typography in Figma and how to do it well, would you like that?

🤬 Everyone used to be a designer
I got laid off in February, along with many designers out there. It seems that as soon as economic trouble are on the horizon, design is the first to go out through the window in companies. I think that’s a huge problem for our industry. I’ve been advocating that design is instrumental to business success for years now, sometimes quite successfully, other times less. The message that comes across because of these massive layoffs is that design isn’t important. It feels that even Apple is now morphing into a less design-centric company, their recent decisions certainly indicate so. If you need proof of that take a look at the latest MacBook Pros — they’re chunky and performing extremely well but not slick anymore.

Is the future bleak for designers? Are we already past our 5 minutes of fame? Conreliux warns us that it’s partly our fault that we are where we are in his post titled Everyone used to be a designer. I think he raises very interesting points and talks about designers already quitting design. They’re moving away from product design into other, sometimes related, areas. I’ll be honest, I’ve been thinking about doing the same. I was really disappointed by my recent layoff and would ideally like to transition into running my own business related to design. It’s what I have been working towards for years but it seems not fast enough. 

👌 Readability: the optimal line length
Intimidating and overwhelming. That’s how participants in this research found texts with lines that were too long. It confirms what typographers have been saying for a long time and also what I have been teaching in my course and book. Line length is critical for good readability on the web but it’s right on the web that the guideline of 50-75 characters per line gets ignored most commonly. It makes sense, books are limited to the page width, on the web, the screen is the limit. And the screen size changes. So designers need to be proactive and take the required steps to produce a nice reading experience that will also create a great user experience. This article by Baymard Institute researches the line length on e-commerce websites. It’s interesting how deeply it affects the users perception of the products being sold. 

Oh, one more thing. I’m looking to move away from Mailchimp. I’ve had it with them. Any alternative tools you recommend I should look into?

That’s it for this Monday. Have an awesome week! 👋


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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    1. Thanks Charlie! I’ll take a look. Right now I’m thinking I’ll probably go with ConvertKit.

  1. Hi Matej! I’m probably late to the party, but Email Octopus seems to be a good alternative to MailChimp if you are looking for a simpler solution.

    1. Thanks Sebastien! I haven’t heard of Email Octopus yet, I’ll take a look. I think I’ll go with ConvertKit. Not sure yet though…

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