Two ingredients to design something great
Plan Your Next #125
👋 Good morning from Los Angeles! I'm Nate Kadlac, and this is #125 of Plan Your Next. A Sunday newsletter that connects design, creativity, and how you prepare for your next thing.
💡 What’s new?
🎨 My favorite design tool—Figma—was bought by Adobe this week for $20b. It seems like yesterday when I was hanging with a couple of friends in SF who worked at this new startup you could design in the browser with.
The great thing about learning the design fundamentals is that they can be applied using any tool. It’s a universal superpower. (I still prefer Figma though.)
⚡️ Testing out a new design feedback service for entrepreneurs. A no B.S. review to get honest and professional design feedback on a landing page, website, or product. The first five people can use EARLYCRIT to get $150 off a single-page critique.
Designing something great is hard.
To design something great requires solving a problem, and doing it in a differentiated or surprising way.
To design something bad, you likely missed one or both of those marks. Like designing an aesthetically pleasing site but making it difficult to navigate.
Great design takes time, and many iterations the public might never see.
Sometimes, it takes decades like the instant Polaroid camera. The Polaroid SX-70 was released in 1972 by Founder, Edwin Land, 24 years after releasing their first consumer camera. And, many years since having the original vision for instant photography when Edwin’s daughter asked, “Why can’t I see the photos instantly?”
In the ‘40s, Edwin envisioned a portable camera that took instant color photos. It took him two decades to figure out how to do everything but the shooting in color part.
When Apple designed the first iPhone notch—housing its front-facing cameras, sensors, and microphones—no one considered it a great feat of design.
It solved the problem of packing more into less, but that's half the work involved in creating something great.
It took Apple five years to iterate on the original notch that stood out like a bad pimple. Dynamic Island—the most recent version of the notch—added the second key element to needed for great design: to solve the problem in a surprising and differentiated way.
If you look around, every single object near you has been designed by someone. Some of it’s good, some fair, but many badly designed objects surround us. I would bet money you could quickly tell what’s designed well or not based on how well they accomplish both things or not.
Great design not only makes your life easier in some way, but it gives you a sense of delight.
The bowl my daughter eats out of solves the problem of holding her food in place, but does it delight her? Well, to be honest, it’s hard to tell. But I’m guessing not by the amount of food on the floor afterward.
Great design is why my wife asks me, "Have you researched this yet?" before buying something for us, knowing I'm usually not satisfied buying badly designed things.
What’s fascinating about design is that everything around us has been thought through. Good or bad, someone had to think through every small design decision. Each letter of each word you’re reading on this screen was hand-crafted by a designer.
Steve Jobs once said the greatest gift someone can give to the world is to create something.
Design is a superpower that enables you to pull the future to the present. To experience a better present, it might take extra time to ensure it surprises and delights us.
—Written using an iPad and Writer, two objects of my design affection.
⚡️ Two creative hits for you to check out next
📕 Check out free Kindle and audiobooks online with a library card
If you have a library card from your local library, Libby allows you to check out books digitally from their website for free. You may need to wait a few days for specific titles to become available, but it’s a fantastic free offering. Even if you don’t have a card, some libraries will let you sign up through Libby.
👋 See you next Sunday
As always, my calendar is open to chat about your next adventure, crazy idea, or if you’re feeling creatively stuck.
My goal is to level up the visual vocabulary in the world through my writing, teaching, and design. If you want to support my journey, the best ways are to:
Learn the 80/20 of design and make better design decisions (and learn to use Figma!)
Build transformative slide decks
Discover your visual style and build a personalized design kit by joining my live workshop waitlist
Become a sponsor of this newsletter (Starting at $50—Please reach out)
Have a great week,
p.s. Words are just words, but if these words made you feel something, would you let me know by tapping on the heart below?