Design Doesn’t Have to Be Mysterious

Uncover the visual tools at work everywhere so you can decipher then create beautiful design

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Face it: the old “Frankendesign” approach isn’t working

We’ve all been there: you’re staring at a blank canvas, and suddenly everything is still. You can’t make a single move.

Meanwhile, visions of perfection float in your head, darting in and out of your consciousness. You can’t seem to grab them before they slip away. Even if you could, you fear you couldn’t make them reality.

Time is passing, and with it, you’re missing out on all of the other things you could be doing. You could be delivering your customers real value, but you can’t even seem to get started. Every moment that passes is money down the drain.


So, you do what every other person in your position does: you “steal.” You scour the library of screenshots and links from your “inspiration” vault, trying to find something that brings that vision back to your head. You download Bootstrap once again, and try to make your idea come to life.

And a new Frankendesign is born: a mishmash of a framework, stock icons, and fonts you picked seemingly at random, but that help make that Bootstrap look less “Bootstrap-ish.”

It might get you by, but it falls way short of your vision. You’ve put so much passion and energy into your product. It doesn’t feel right to put its soul into a body that’s so lifeless.

trained my eye for design, sharpened my intuition....
[D4H] has become my trusted reference...

Erik E.

I am a UX Designer for an Enterprise SAAS company serving mobile carriers. I was totally clueless towards things like rhythm, direction, and proportion when it came to analyzing designs. Our four-person team works in an agile process, using frameworks that can sometimes be constraining, but D4H Video has helped me make the most of my small toolkit.

D4H Video has trained my eye for design, sharpening my intuition, and allowing me to move forward with confidence. It has become my trusted reference when the jungle of my job steers into the visual direction.

When you understand great design, you don’t have to “fiddle”

All of this wouldn’t be so frustrating if it just didn’t matter. If only design were just pretty decorations there just for the amusement of their maker.

These days, design is more important than ever for getting taken seriously. Look at any popular app you use day-to-day: from Facebook, to Twitter, and now even Google. The bar has been raised higher than ever. Good design is no longer a “nice-to-have.” Good design is a must.

To make things even more challenging, production timelines have gotten tighter and tighter. Teams are moving forward faster than ever, with disciplines like design and development converging on tasks like never before. You need design to contribute in today’s world – not only to stand out, but to even stay relevant.

Bad design destroys credibility

How has design managed to become such a critical skill in today’s world? It may seem as if design somehow creates value out of thin air.

It turns out, that’s pretty much what good design does. It gives you instant credibility.

In a pioneering study, B.J. Fogg – who started Stanford University’s “Persuasive Technology” Lab on Stanford’s always-sunny, sequoia-tree-lined campus, discovered that design is the most important factor customers use in determining the credibility of websites. Participants in the study reviewed websites, and commented on whether they found them to be credible or not.

Over 46% of all comments about whether someone trusted a site or not were about the visual design of the site.

People said sites they trusted were “more professional-looking,” or that they “just looked more credible.”

Do you have any idea how to make something “more professional-looking,” or “just look more credible?” Probably not. That’s why you’re here.

It’s amazing that in a world where we know so much, things as simple as fonts and colors still make little sense. When you ask a designer about them, you get descriptions as head-scratching as the comments from Fogg’s credibility study. Yeah, you get that this font is “cool,” but WHY!?

Still, you try. You scrape together articles, and capture samples of designs you like. You do little test projects, and annoy your designer friends trying to pick their brains. It feels like they’re not telling you everything – as if they’re a society of magicians, sworn to secrecy.

Or maybe, you might think, a sense of design is just something you have, or you don’t. You might think your brain is “just wired differently.”

Demystified I spend a lot less time trying to figure out what fonts go together

Nicole M.

I’m a web developer, and I design sites when there is no one more skilled available. I used to think good designs were born like Athena from Zeus’s forehead, but D4H Video demystified design for me. In particular, I understand typography much better than I did before, so I spend a lot less time trying to figure out what fonts go together.

You don’t have to have a degree to design

I’m David Kadavy, the guy behind this design course. I’ve been a part of this seemingly secret society of designers. I got my degree in Graphic Design, and I even won super-prestigious fancy-pants international awards for my work.

After systematically honing my design skills to deliver in the fast-paced grinders that are Silicon Valley startups, I decided to “open source” visual design. So, I wrote a book called Design for Hackers to break down the fundamentals of good design.

Finally, developers and programmers had a way to think about design that made sense for their brains. They were so hungry for this knowledge, D4H debuted in the top 20 on all of Amazon. My puny little “hacker” book was outselling former Vice President Dick Cheney!

The readers I’ve talked to have learned how to design better, faster, and with more confidence in their decisions. I’ve talked to whole teams, in fact, who have stopped burning everyone’s time arguing arbitrarily in design meetings. They finally have a common vocabulary with which to make decisions and move on!

The one complaint I’ve heard over and over again from my readers, though, is that they struggle with having the time and the motivation to actually face design head-on and add that coveted “design pro” arrow to their quivers, once and for all.

You’ll learn design in easy-to-digest videos like this one on Visual Hierarchy. Here’s a short preview.

PREVIEW Lecture 7.0: Introduction to Visual Hierarchy

D4H Core Lessons The Design for Hackers approach to design, condensed into 20 information-packed lectures

Whether you fear the blank canvas, or cringe whenever you get client feedback, the solution is to know your stuff when it comes to design.

The D4H Core Lessons arm you with an understanding of every little piece that comes together to make great design. Stop the guesswork, and start the know-work.

Design isn’t just for “creatives”

Many people (even designers) believe the myth that visual design is only for “visual thinkers,” “creatives,” or artists. The truth is, just like programming, math, and language, great design is simply a combination of key parts. Once you break down and understand these elements, you can put them together in a way that makes sense.

You don’t need a 4-year degree or a 300-page textbook to decipher and create beautiful design. Just learning the essential, actionable elements of design will transform how you view everything you see around you. Plus, you’ll know exactly where to start when staring down a looming project.

D4H Video is specifically designed to make the most of your precious time. In the Core Lessons, I’ve condensed the concepts from Design for Hackers down to the essentials. Learn the most important elements of the D4H approach in videos that are around 5 minutes apiece, packed with up-to-date examples.

The Core Lessons break down every little factor that come together to create great design. The Core Lessons are divided up into three modules and 20 lectures, to help you focus on each of those pieces one at a time.

To maximize your learning, I’m including the Motivation Pack, which includes challenges and a lesson plan to streamline your learning process.

Design for Hackers lessons

At around 5 minutes apiece, everybody got time for that! Captioned in English

Module 1 Laying the Foundation

Module 2 Exposing the “Layers”

Module 3 Communicating Visually

The Motivation Pack 15 actionable minutes a day

You know how much you want to take your design skills to the “pro” level, but that can seem so daunting. As much design advice as you pore over day-to-day, don’t you feel like you should be there by now?

The key is making manageable progress, and getting that progress built into your habits.

The Motivation Pack: Finally internalize design basics

The problem most people have when trying to learn design is they get overwhelmed. They see so much great design out there, but they can’t seem to break it down and understand it in a way that they can translate into great work of their own.

They just end up copying what they see, and feeling like impostors. Or, they end up reading a huge design textbook with no idea what to do next or how to actually apply what they’ve learned.

But the key to making progress is having that progress broken down into manageable chunks. That’s the crux of D4H Video.

You’ll get only the essential pieces of design in to-the-point, short lessons and then steps for applying the lesson right away – so it becomes a seamless, automatic part of your design process.

Kill overwhelm and get focused

The reason many beginning designers get overwhelmed is they don’t understand what they see. They know they’re seeing great design, but it’s not clear just what is happening to make that great design.

The Motivation Pack included in D4H Video is designed to help you make comfortable progress, so you don’t get overwhelmed, and you can concentrate on the key components of making great design, one piece at a time.

Think like a designer

A great designer can make decisions quickly, throwing together a beautiful design with seemingly little effort. When you ask them how they did that, it seems they can never tell you.

That’s because great design habits have been programmed into their brain by doing. They have internalized great design so well, they have no conscious awareness of how they’re actually doing it.

What if you didn’t have to power through years of designs to reach this level of mastery? What if you didn’t have to just “figure it out” for yourself, writhing in agony with each new blank canvas?

The Motivation Pack is designed to give you design challenges you can do easily, building the micro-skills behind doing great design, one at a time.

Each lecture is accompanied with a 10-Minute Challenge that helps program the concepts into your brain. You set a timer for 10 minutes, and do the challenge within that set time. The focused work kills design overwhelm, and the short time frame keeps you motivated. Finally, the little pieces of design will feel easy to you.

No random articles, a plan that makes sense


Are you consistent with practicing design? Most people find themselves sorting through design articles and books in long sprints. By the end, they’re mentally exhausted, they aren’t sure what they’ve learned, and they don’t have the energy to try again tomorrow.

What they should be doing is making a habit out of learning design. Research shows that you’ll have an easier time making a habit of something if you start small.

If you’ve ever tried to start a workout program, chances are you worked out really hard for a day, then totally burnt yourself out. You didn’t have the energy to keep the program going.

The Motivation Pack comes with a 5-week schedule that will help you make a habit out of learning design.

Instead of trying to binge on design, we recommend watching one video per day, followed by a 10-minute challenge. This will guide you through understanding the framework behind design, and keep you from getting burnt out.

D4H Video

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About the person
who makes these things

David Kadavy @kadavy
Author/Professor, Design for Hackers

David Kadavy is author of the #18 Amazon best-selling book, Design for Hackers. Prior to writing Design for Hackers, David led design at two Silicon Valley startups, freelanced for clients such as oDesk, PBworks, and UserVoice, and launched numerous startups of his own – none of which failed hard enough to be worthy of mention in this bio.

David's work has won international awards that only design snobs have heard of, and his email course has taught over 100,000 people the fundamentals of good design.

I guarantee your satisfaction

Every day, I get up with the mission of blowing your mind with design insights you’ll never see anywhere else. I’ve dedicated the past several years of my life to perfecting the craft of explaining the mysterious world of design in the most engaging, eye-opening, and effective way possible.

I stand by the things I make. If what you pay for just doesn’t do it for you – if you feel the things you learn won’t pay off for you hundreds if not thousands of times over in your lifetime, I can’t accept your money. Let me know at [email protected] within 60 days of purchase, and I’ll send your money back.

David Kadavy
Design for Hackers

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is this different from the book?

Yes. The course content is based upon the book, which has been out for several years now. So, the lessons are condensed to the most essential elements, the examples are updated, and the explanations are more crisp, thanks to conversations I’ve had with my readers over the years.

Additionally, in the included Motivation Pack, each lecture has an accompanying 10-minute challenge to help program these “micro-skills” into your brain.

Reading a book and implementing everything you’ve learned can be a hard slog, so some people just find it easier to stay motivated with all of these different tools in place.

I’m super busy. Can I go at my own pace?

Yes, definitely. You get lifetime access to all of the materials. You can watch the videos whenever and wherever you want. However, the Motivation Pack includes a suggested lesson plan you can follow on your own.

I’m a beginner. Is this course for me?

Yes. A lot of this course is about the theory behind design – explaining all of the things that work together to make great design. So, if you’re just starting out, this is a great way to start. You’ll have a leg up, because you’ll have a more solid foundation to grow on. As long as you’re interested in learning about design.

I’m already a professional designer. Is this course for me?

It depends. If you know Bringhurst and Tschichold by heart, and can spot Verdana being used on a strip mall sign from a mile away, you probably don’t need this course. If, however, you’d like to give your skills a refresh, step back and look at the theory behind design, and dive back in with fresh eyes, then this would be a great course for you.

Professional designers also find this material invaluable in communicating with colleagues and project stakeholders that don’t otherwise understand or value design, or improving cross-disciplinary communication on design projects.

Are there any skills or programs required? I’m not a programmer!

The course is geared toward those logical and analytical “developer types,” but don’t let that hold you back. There are some mentions of CSS and HTML here and there, but the course is mostly concerned with the visual and theoretical aspects of design. So, no, there are no particular skills or technologies required.

Even if the timing doesn’t seem right for signing up right now, we recommend buying now. You’ll automatically get any improvements made to the course during its lifetime, even if the price increases. You have lifetime access, so you can take the course when it is convenient for you.

How do I get the product?

The course is embedded in a few HTML files that you can open in any web browser on desktop or mobile. You’ll get instant access (you’ll be able to download these files, as well as the files in the Motivation Pack) immediately upon payment.

I have a different question.

If you don’t see your question answered here, feel free to email me at [email protected].

Okay, buy now