These days, the best practice for launching a startup is to create a landing page before writing a single line of code. I completely ignored the advice and spent 3 weeks building an MVP. Since I already knew what to build and didn't need a landing page to pitch to a first customer(my employer), it was the fastest path to the first revenue.
But now I need to reach wider audience and a landing page is essential for that. I'm not a designer, but I'm fascinated by design. If something looks good, it looks legit. It builds instant credibility. Every time I built a side project, I was always disappointed by how terrible it looked. I realized that it doesn't matter how awesome your app is if it doesn't look good.
For most businesses, you hire a designer to do the design work for you. But I'm just a solo founder and don't have money for that. Even if I did, delegating such a crucial part of a business sounds daunting. I used to think that delegating engineering to someone else is a bad idea. But now I think it's more true for design. If I can design, I can create a mockup and hand it to engineers. But there is no "mockup" for design.
So I decided to teach myself design. I googled "How to learn design" and found a book called "you can draw in 30 days." It was OK, but drawing by hand felt a little bit waste of time for my needs. I want to create design that looks like https://slack.com. In other words, I need to know how to create a vector image. Adobe illustrator is a de facto tool for this. But it's too expensive, so I bought Affinity Designer, a cheap alternative to illustrator. I could've used Sketch or figma, but they are suited for UI design whereas Affinity Designer is mainly used for graphic design and illustration.
I went through several tutorials on YouTube and quickly got a hang of Affinity Designer. Then I simply imported an illustration that I liked to Affinity Designer and started tweaking. The result is this. Not bad for a designer with a few days of practice, don't you think?
I want to design logos, icons, and infographics. Maybe I might need to design a person, which I'm terrible at. I know that knowing a design tool will only get me so far. But in the process of building a clone app and stealing someone else's design , I realized that just copying an existing design can teach you a lot. This is a bottom up approach. For me, it works better than learning the design theory like color and typography and all the boring stuff. My previous attempts to learning design failed because I was trying to "study design". I was trying to understand the principle behind a good design, just like programming.
The crucial difference between design and programming though, is that design doesn't break like a computer program. If you don't understand the fundamentals of programming, copy pasting sample code is useless, because you don't know how to tweak it. If you do tweak with your gut feeling, it'll give you bunch of errors. The result is a non-functioning program. However, you can do the same in design, because even a bad design "works", meaning at least it shows what it is.
So, I will keep stealing other people's design and see how far I can go.