8 Design Lessons You Didn’t Learn In School (From Our CEO)

Posted in: Innovation

When I was young, I realized very quickly that school wasn’t the place for me…Heck, I could barely sit through an hour of class.

So, I dropped out of college at 19 to launch Hello Innovation. When I founded Hello Innovation, I didn’t have any textbooks, reports, or lecture notes to reference. I was definitely at a disadvantage, but I knew that my intuition, ambition and one hell of an imagination would get me where I was going.

Over the last decade, I’ve learned a lot of lessons about design, entrepreneurship and everything in between. Some came easy, and some were learned the hard way. But one thing is for sure, I didn’t learn them in school. And today, I’m going to share these lessons with you.

So here you go, here are 8 design lessons you didn’t learn in school:


1. Imagination is the most important tool you have.

One thing they don’t teach in school is how to put your imagination to use. Sure, circa 1st grade our teachers would hand us coloring books and tell us “use your imaginations”. But in high school and college, unless you’re studying art, your imagination gets a little rusty. In fact, I find many professionals are afraid to get creative. But the truth is, the most remarkable things in this world of ours were created by people who let their imaginations run wild... on a daily basis. Take Walt Disney, Steve Jobs and Thomas Edison for example.


2. Start with the impossible.

One thing I learned quickly when starting my own business is that there’s no such thing as impossible. Almost every business or product idea I’ve come up with was seemingly impossible at the time, but I always figured out how to make it work. Stretching your limits will show you how much you really can achieve (you’ll be surprised). And, if you work hard enough, it will result in a killer product or business.


3. Think “A to Z”.

I have this brainstorming technique I use with my creative team in the beginning stages of any new project we take on, and it’s called the “A to Z” technique. Basically, I ask them to come up with dozens of ideas that range from “A” (something so simple a child could have come up with it) to “Z” (things not even aliens could dream up). By having such a wide range of ideas, your mind opens to all the possibilities one single idea can create.


4. Never be predictable.

When you design anything, you should always strive to keep your audience asking “what’s next?”. For example, if you wanted to create a beautifully designed website, what would make people want to scroll down the page? I can tell you right now they certainly won’t scroll down if they already know what they’re going to find. A great designer knows that you have to keep people guessing by refreshing them and awe-ing them with every click.

6. Always be timeless.

Some of the most genius designs (think Louis Vuitton, Chanel, & Andy Warhol) have stood the test of time for decades. They didn’t want to create something trendy, they wanted to create something timeless. It can be tempting to follow the trends, but don’t. Why design something that won’t stand the test of time?


7. Take a different perspective on something ordinary.

While reinventing the wheel is an excellent way to succeed, it’s not always needed to create something remarkable. Why not try taking something that people do or look at everyday, and change the way they do it? Maybe it’s more clever, easy, or stunning. Like, taking a traditional square grid and rotating it into a diamond grid (hint: our Hello Innovation website). You’ll be surprised by the impact you can make by just seeing something ordinary from a different perspective.


8. Get their attention.

Design has the power to spark emotions, so if your design isn’t getting anyone’s attention, it’s time to make a change. The way I see it, the first time someone takes a look at your design - whether it’s a website, video, or postcard, they should think, “Man, that’s cool, I want to be a part of it.” It’s all about making people curious and leave them wanting more.


What design lessons do you have to share with us? Tell me in the comments below!

Hey Yo Comment!