Hi there! Thanks for stopping by. My name is Rumen Dimitrov. I'm a problem-solving web designer.
How did it all start?
My curiosity for technology kicked off when I got my first computer. As it was pretty old and pretty slow I was wondering what could I do with it. So to entertain myself, one hot summer after 6th grade school year was over, I got myself the “The Java Programming Language” book and I started learning programming.
I had spent many hours in the rabbit hole of coding. The more I spent, the more I liked it. Coding, at that time, was my problem-solving weapon of choice.
I still remember my first day online
I visited every website the URL of which I could scavenge at home— off the back cover of my first Java book I got to the publisher's site; I found a sticker with the site of my computer's manufacturer; Browsed through the business cards found in my parent's card holder and snagged two URLs out of there too.
Somehow I ended up on the site of a search engine. I was mesmerised.
The ability to have access to vast amounts of information was thrilling for a geek like me. I had many questions, and AltaVista, HotBot and Yahoo had the answers. (Yes, Google was not popular back then).
Just like with coding, the more I used the web the more fascinated I got with it. I was hooked. Not only to the information, but to the web as a platform.
Soon I began dreaming about taking my coding skills to the next level—I wanted to create websites and shape the experiences people will have with them.
Fixated on this goal I started consuming anything that got in my way and had something to do with web design. On the way I learned Photoshop, HTML & CSS. I started coding web sites.
But the truth was my websites didn't look as nearly as good as the ones I liked to browse. "How come? We are using the same tools, but the result is different!"
"So, how does a coder turn designer?"
I asked this question myself a lot.
At the time when you googled "web design" you would find tutorials about the tools and how to use them, but nothing about "what made you use them this way".
Then I gave up
Tired of struggling I signed up for a Bacherlor's degree in Design. At the beginning I thought they were going to teach me about web design. And then I realised I'd enrolled in Industrial Design BSc. "Well, let's run with this and see where it takes me". The dream of becoming a web designer: suspended.
Years had passed in creating and working with models, materials and prototypes. I was learning how to think in processes and explain my ideas better (through systems and diagrams).
I learned how to create objects that people would love to use to solve their problem. The problem-solver in me was satisfied. But the coder WAS NOT.
After graduating with honours I couldn’t keep myself from going back to the web, this time bringing my coding and design skills together. I became a freelancer.
Freelance web designer, actually.
"So, how does a coder turn web designer?"
Heck, how does anyone become a web designer?
Now I have an answer to that question!
Truth is, I was lucky enough to have great teachers in the university. That's how I learned to design.
But a lot of other people I meet weren't that lucky. They had to teach themselves.
A lot of the people I meet try to learn web design the hard way. It usually goes like this:
The 5 stages of "getting lost in web design"
- Learn HTML & CSS
- Try creating a website…
And it looks ugly. Rinse and repeat (with heaps of hope for the best).
- Get into complain-mode. Online.
You ask for help on reddit. People tell you to tear apart great websites and copy them.
- Spend months tearing apart websites.
Looking at their code you start using some snippets and your designs look a tiny bit better. Though they still lack that smoothness of a professional design… Frankly, now they look like Frankenstein's monster—made with pieces that don't belong together.
- Feel completely stuck.
You pick up Bootstrap (and your sites start to look slightly better, but now they look synthetic…).Learn jQuery, AngularJS and whatnot because that's hot right now. "It may help you land some gig".
This approach won't work. It won't make you a web designer. You come closer to a front-end developer now. And that may even be an overstatement.
It will take you ages and unthinkable amount of work to actually become a designer that way.
The problem is not in you, your talent or your skills.
To transition from a coder to a designer, you don't need tools, you need principles. You need to think like a designer. You need a system of principles.
Seeing people struggle with this over and over again, I kept sharing my own system with them, until I realized that more than 10 people need to know this.
This inspired me to create a free course, just for you—the person who knows the technical side of things and is struggling with the actual design.
The course is called “Web Design Beyond HTML&CSS”.