Finding the best design resources — And having a gold-miner’s mindset

15 October 2017 | Compass of Design

Darian Rosebrook

9 min read

Finding the best design resources

And having a gold-miner’s mindset

Let’s start with a story.

Janelle is someone who takes her days very seriously. She’s got the sweet position of UI Designer for X Company where she has been doing great work. One of the people in her industry, Megan, has been sharing her experience as a UI Designer going from a small practice to scaling her own business as a UI design agency.

Janelle hears something that Megan said in a recent podcast of hers that she disagrees with. Janelle then stops listening to Megan’s podcast for UI Designers and decides based on that one comment of Megan’s that she doesn’t actually know what she’s doing as a UI Designer.

Janelle then burns that bridge and puts together strong advice to any UI Designer that Megan isn’t a good resource to find information about UI Design.

Janelle then continues her life as normal, not thinking about what Megan is doing.


Along the same lines, I am a Brand Identity Designer that is working on mastering my own craft. Every day, I take time consuming resources in order to help further my skills and mindset as a Brand Identity Designer. These resources can be anything from videos about graphic design, business books, animation tutorials, twitter feeds, etc.

In almost every piece of content,** I am able to find something of value that I can apply to my current process or structure**.

When I find something that was helpful, I try to share it with my friends in the Compass of Design community. Not every time are these topics received very well. Recently I had been seeing a common thread among members, subscribers, and friends following my social media pages.

There has been a lot more to each conversation going on, but I figured I can share this topic with you too in order to make sure you have your best foot forward when taking in resources about design.

It feels like people think that in order for you to actually learn from a given person or resource, you have to agree with it 100% or else you should disregard the whole thing as a not-so-good resource.

Why I choose to be a gold miner.

A bunch of you see everything I share through all my accounts. Honestly, that’s a lot of places to follow me (Dribbble, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Medium, etc). But what you don’t see is everything that I’m taking in and consuming.

For everything I post in the community and on social media, there’s probably 2–4 things I don’t.

I don’t just follow the giants in our design industry. A lot of people around me are sharing great content based on what they do. However, I am not looking to learn every single thing from these posts either. I have a filter.

I’m looking for the gold nuggets (I hate the word nuggets but it fits in the topic). These **nuggets are hidden in everyone’s content **that they share.

Because there’s so much fluff out there in content, you have to have a goal in mind of what you are looking for when you’re going through content.

You need to know what you’re looking for in order to know if it’s worth your time to mine for gold there.

I told you a little bit about the things that I take a look at to improve my skills. I don’t just look at the resources that are out there on the internet.

Every part of my life, and the people, media, and politics in it, I’m looking for the tiny bits of hidden value.

It always seems the more you read into someone or something, the more you’re able to find things that you don’t agree with. Just think of all the talk with politics or healthcare. (or don’t, that’ll get you sidetracked).

Everything out there has things that you have to tune out to get to the good stuff.

You won’t agree with everyone in life, but even then, there’s gold hidden in the content these people share. Mine for it
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A prospector doesn’t keep all the rocks, mud and twigs they find. They take what they need and move on.

I can’t tell you how many times I have re-watched or re-read something I’ve gone through before. Even if I didn’t get something in it the first time, I sometimes go through a piece of content to see if anything has changed.

Usually I find that I can relate to something finally because I’m closer to the point where they are at in sharing it. Meaning, that I am now part of the intended audience for that content. A lot of my learning has come with my transition into business and community leadership.

You never know what you might have missed the first time around

So by going over the resource one more time, you’re able to relate better to the content. (As an example, I listen to the old episodes of the seanwes podcast again and again because there’s always something I missed or didn’t relate to the first time.)

Once you reach a certain point, I hope you go back through valuable content once more to ring out as much value as possible.

As you’re poring over a new resource, it’s important to take notes in order to determine what you’ve taken away from it.

Think of it as a map directly back to the gold you’ve found. This way you don’t have to wade through everything again if you need to come back to it. I’m constantly writing notes, taking time-signiatures down, references, anything that helps me.

I’ll watch animation reels to see how someone highlights areas of the frame. I’ll look at color choices in cinematography. I’ll rewrite advertisements or re-sign up for newsletters just to see the words that are used to bring people in. All the while, taking enough notes to adopt their process to my process.

Without the notes, the pieces start to blur and you have content that you’ve consumed melding into the rest of everything else from the week.

Having notes helps you highlight exactly what value you’ve gotten from a resource: both positive things to add and negative things to avoid.

You’d be surprised at the amount of knowledge and experience another person has. But if you immediately dismiss someone because what they share doesn’t immediately align to your values, you’re missing a huge opportunity.

I’m also not asking you to wade through a bunch of B.S. or low-quality stuff. I’m advocating that in every piece of content that someone shares, there’s something of value that motivated them to share it.

Maybe the thing that they know can spark an idea or debate that helps you learn something new or solidify what you actually know. Either way, there’s a wealth of untapped knowledge that could be available to you if you’re willing to look past differing views and start to value looking on the things that drove them to make their decision.

You have to play both psychologist along with the brand specialist in order to move any needles forward.

I pride myself on having the ability to see two sides of a coin. What I share is my opinions based off of experience. Good debates spark that inspiration and help me keep my own facts in check.

Like I had said above, you won’t always agree on 100% of things we share. But you have to be able to look at everything to find a little value.

This is also true with my own content.

Should I share anything that you feel shouldn’t be shared or you have a better idea of how to do something, let me know!

I don’t bite. I promise. The topics from the publication are usually sparked by good conversations I’m having around the design communities. So when I present something, it’s usually because I have experience testing their ideas or know the person well enough to trust their level of expertise. .

Not everyone will be able to use every piece of content I make. And not many people take feedback and criticism as well as I do. But I want to let you know you can always use communities like ours to seek feedback.

You might even get the chance to change my mind **on certain topics, **which would be cool.

You can either ignore content you disagree with and just pull what you need from the content, or you can open a healthy debate on the topic.

I don’t want to preach what I know, I would rather that someone take my logo design business and be professional than to ignore that I’m not teaching well to others.

So if there’s something let me know, please let me know. The best topics are created when they answer something that you’re replying with or when they come directly from the community.


Still wondering how to find gold in design resources?

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Darian Rosebrook

Brand Identity Designer for @itssomagnetic, running a design community at @compassofdesign. I write to help others grow their skills as designers.

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