I often talk about how important the act of reading is to a designer. I don’t have many platforms or soap boxes that I get on regularly, but the importance of staying current and understanding our place in the stream of time through continued education is one of them.
The field of design has been undergoing radical change for the last few decades. Since the introduction of the computer and then the internet, things have been moving at break neck speed and we’ve all been scrambling to keep up. A strong reading schedule is one of the best ways to stay on top of the rapid fire changes we need to assimilate and incorporate to stay on our
Developing strong reading habits and a toolset to support them is the best way to keep information pouring in and on top of the important issues. Here’s a brief look at my toolset and process:
It’s All in the Reader
I looked high and low for a solid RSS aggregator and have gone through a ton of reading apps ( ) trying to find one that would allow me to capture the vast amount of resources that I follow on a regular basis. I finally settled on Feedly. I don’t usually tend to go with the pro version of many software packages, but I took the leap into the enhanced package because of the offline storage capabilities and other features designed to facilitate reading.
Once you begin to latch on to different RSS feeds and setting them up in your aggregator you will get to a point (rather quickly) where you are accumulating more articles that you can possibly read in a given week. I hate to skip over articles and let them slip by because the chances of remembering to circle back around to read them, and finding them, even if you can remember all of them, is highly unlikely. For that reason the second tool I ended up investing in was a social bookmarking app to keep track of all the articles I want to read in the future. Pocket was the storage platform I decided on. I love the fact that you can store the articles in different categories and store the content offline for reading later.
Catching the Crumbs
Finally, I use a note taking app to keep track of important ideas, tips, knowledge that I don’t want to forget. I was an Evernote pro user for years, but when I saw the redesign to the Notes application in the most recent release of Mac OS I decided to stay a bit more local and drop out of Evernote. The newest version of Notes allows for just about all of the major Evernote functionality including the ability to embed full screen captured webpages which becomes extremely important when you consider the flux of content on the web.
There is constant noise and interference in our daily lives from social media, news, TV, the internet, and dozens of other sources. Focus and retention are the casualties of this hyper-active lifestyle. Forming a solid toolset that fosters and aids reading has never been more important than it is right now. There’s a statistic saying that design is the only field (interactive and web specifically) where we need to relearn our profession every two years. That’s scary, but it highlights the fact that reading and continuing education has never been more important than it is right now.