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The Design Method: A Philosophy and Process for Functional Visual Communication (Voices That Matter) [Kindle Edition]

Eric Karjaluoto
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feeling uninspired? That shouldn’t keep you from creating great design work. Design is not about luck, inspiration, or personal expression. Design is a disciplined pursuit aimed at producing sensible, functional work for clients. In The Design Method, you’ll learn how to create quality design work on a regular basis that consistently pleases your clients using the same method that Creative Director Eric Karjaluoto uses at his creative agency, smashLAB. The Design Method will teach you a proven, repeatable process for solving visual communication problems.

In this book, you will learn:
- Ways to conduct research and gain insight into your clients’ situations
- A process for establishing strategies and plans for your projects
- How to develop a cohesive concept and visual direction for each client/job
- An iterative approach to prototype, test, refine, and produce effective design
- Techniques for presenting and documenting creative work
- Tips for making your design studio operate efficiently and consistently

Product Description


“Everyone likes to complain about design, but almost no one is leading, teaching, and talking about how to do it better. Thanks, Eric, for giving us a book we can share with those that need it—us!”
—Seth Godin, Author of The Icarus Deception

“Eric Karjaluoto doesn’t think this book is for everyone, and boy is he wrong. This book is for every designer on the planet. The Design Method is proof positive that it is possible to make timeless, beautiful design that actually succeeds in the marketplace. If you’ve ever had your work rejected by a client (and who hasn’t), this book is for you.”
—Debbie Millman, President Design, Sterling Brands

“Designers often get confused with artists. Designers, however, are not paid to communicate their issues but to solve other people’s problems. We are professionals and we have clients. For them we visualize ideas, processes, messages, and products. Working within constraints means that we cannot wait for that moment of divine inspiration. It means employing methods to keep us on track by making our thought process transparent to our clients and our peers. When kids ask me for the three most important things to do, I tell them: 1) Learn; 2) Learn; 3) Learn. And in that order. Start by reading this book.”
—Erik Spiekermann, Partner, Edenspiekermann

“Clearly, Eric hates everything I stand for, but you should still buy his excellent book. No matter your motives and aspirations, he offers a strong, useful method that will make you a better designer.”
—Stefan G. Bucher, Designer, Illustrator, Writer, 344 Design

“Full of useful advice on how to tackle a graphic design project from start to finish. An excellent addition to the library of any design student or self-employed designer.”
—David Airey, Designer, and Author of Logo Design Love

“There are so many design books that are simply overblown portfolios. The Design Method presumes that designers know how to read and think. The book is dense, intelligent, and bravely opinionated. When designers are given nothing but frosting and pretty fluff, it is refreshing to see a book that challenges perceptions and informs us.”
—Sean Adams, Partner, AdamsMorioka

“This is a book that the design industry has needed for decades. It assumes that the designer wants to do effective work, which of itself is worthy of an entire book. In an era when design is being commoditized—even by the industry itself—I welcome this book
and hope it has a widespread influence.”
—David C. Baker, Principal, Recourses, Inc.

“It seems the design world increasingly confuses fame for mastery. Eric’s book will hurtle you down the path of mastery, first. Apply this thinking everywhere and you might become famous, second. If you want to expertly navigate the exploding potential that design now holds, this is the best new guidebook I know.”
—Brian Collins, Chief Creative Officer, Collins

“Required reading for all students of design, Karjaluoto’s straight-talking Method aptly advances designers beyond artistic makers to constructive facilitators that make things happen.”
—Robin Alyse Doyle, Managing Editor, Communication Arts

“As a successful designer and design commentator, Eric Karjaluoto combines his twin passions to great effect in The Design Method. By turns wise, witty, and opinionated, the book acts as a thoughtful and practical guide to doing effective brand, communication, and graphic design. While not all designers will embrace Karjaluoto’s method, all have something to learn from it.”
—Peter Giffen, Editor, Applied Arts Magazine

“Eric: I know you were only 10 years old at the time, but if you’d published this in 1984 I might have avoided some of the lessons I had to learn the really, really hard way. This is solid thinking, clearly articulated. You done good!”
—Dave Mason, Principal / Strategy Director, Multiple Inc.

“Eric Karjaluoto has a wonderful way of writing about design, which is engaging, conversational, and understandable. While this book is helpful for anyone interested in design, it is also a pleasure to read.”
—Paula Scher, Partner, Pentagram

“For the first eight years of my design career I learned from my mentor. For the next eight, I learned from my mistakes. The Design Method short circuits both with practical advice and proven wisdom. Karjaluoto’s casual style and personal perspective make for an engaging, non-nonsense read. There are times when you’ll want to put this book down—but only to make the changes it recommends.”
—Christopher Simmons, Principal / Creative Director, Mine

“Eric Karjaluoto’s book, The Design Method, is the essential handbook that should come with every career in design. This exceptionally practical reference, based on real world experiences in problem solving, will inform and enlighten everyone from beginning
students to seasoned practitioners.”
—Myles Tanaka, Department Chair, The Art Institute of New York City

“Being a staunch believer that design is not about being artsy or a vehicle for self-expression and is, instead, an objective, rational, laborious process based on listening to a client and translating that into a tangible, accessible solution, I found The Design Method the exact kind of prescription the design industry needs.
—Armin Vit, Co-founder, UnderConsideration

About the Author

Eric Karjaluoto is creative director and a founding partner of the creative agency smashLAB. Since 2000, he has helped a broad range of clients including The Vancouver Aquarium, the University of Minnesota, and The Nature Conservancy with their strategic, design, and communication challenges. Eric wrote Speak Human (Outmarket the Big Guys by Getting Personal), and he writes regularly about design at

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 10258 KB
  • Print Length: 237 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 5 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: New Riders; 1 edition (12 Aug. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #592,938 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest and thought provoking 26 Sept. 2013
By Sambo1
Eric karjaluoto has a very engaging and entertaining style of communication. I highly recommend taking a look at the design articles on his blog, his first book "Speak Human" and his latest book "The design method".

Much like the writing on Eric's blog:, his first two books have the same humour and creativity I have enjoyed as an over the pond long time subscriber to his posts. A thought provoking and personal writing style that uses straight forward language makes for easy reading.

A large part of the first first chapters can be summed up in the following statement
"Your value as a designer isn't limited to the designs you create; it's in facilitating a process that can lead your clients to fruitful, and profitable, insights." p44

Much of the book has strong ideas, strong statements and strong personal insights and this book is aimed at those looking to challenge personal mindsets on what a designer should be.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Wish I had read this many years ago. 2 Oct. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This would have set me on a very different design career path. I'm enjoying the book a lot. Thank you
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Doing it all for the Client 7 Feb. 2014
The book is really pitched at design studios and designers who have a large client base. The author writes from the perspective of a design company (in Vancouver) so if you are a designer with no clients because you work full time on a magazine or newspaper, mail order catalogues, the graphics section of TV channels, a bank or large city websites what's in these pages will hardly help you.

The word client appears on almost every page and Chapter ten is titles: Presenting work to Clients. The author's Design Method is a structured theory to help designers who, because they work in a studio, will probably tackle a whole range of design challenges from corporate identity to label design to Annual Reports to logos to company brochures over a year with the client always in the back of their minds. Each job is different and requires research and creative strategies which are not needed by designers who work in the arena of the creative jobs I described above.

This a book full of words about essentially a visual subject and it really would have helped to cut back on a lot of the text and used illustrations (with deep captions) to explain why some creative ideas work and others don't. There are a few images in the book but they mostly small and in mono.

Worth a read if you aspire to run a design studio with a lots of clients others can carry on designing as usual.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  35 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must read for anyone in the design industry 12 Sept. 2013
By Steve Guberman - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've been a big fan of Eric and smashLAB for years now, and when I heard Eric was putting out another book I was so excited. Having read his blog posts, tweets, facebook posts and other online content for years, I knew this book was going to be a home run for me. I own a small branding and interactive agency in NJ, USA and while I haven't finished the book (yet), it's easily in my top ten books to reference for working better as an agency, for pushing our creative limits and for working better with our clients. I've read some sections a few times over and each time I get new information - I imagine the entire book is like that and can't wait to get through the whole thing a few times over. Eric writes the way you'd think he speaks and that makes it really digestible for me. He gives real world agency examples on how smashLAB and other agencies do things (and don't do things). My agency is only seven years old and we have a ton to learn, so I read books by guys like Jeffrey Zeldman, Jason Fried, Mike Montiero, Gary Vaynerchuck and with titles like Build to Sell and The E-Myth. The Design Method falls in with all of those books as a tool that will help guide the future of my business, hands down. It spoke directly to me as a designer, a creative director and agency owner. I'm asking (making) all of my employees to read this book as well - it can only help us as a team.

If you want to grow as a designer, work better as a team and succeed in growing an agency, this book is perfect for you. Read it. A few times.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Design Method 30 Sept. 2013
By GhostCEO - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
As the owner of the Ghost CEO, I have watched many designers over the years struggle with getting their business model both profitable and then sustainable. Stepping outside of creative and into business mode is a challenge for most and traditional thought is that you have to be one or the other. In The Design Method, Eric lays out the key components required for straddling both camps without neglecting either. I read it from a business builder point of view (not a designer myself) and found myself highlighting key passages and thinking 'yes' as I read through his points. This book is a 'must read' for designers who truly want to have a profitable business (leaving 'starving artist syndrome') and want to do things right and look at things through the right lens. This is also a valuable asset to those who work with designers (like ourselves) and a tool our company will be pointing to as these types of clients come in. Eric's insights into a client management model were a particular highlight for me and as a consumer of design, one that I wish more designers practiced

My recommendation to the reader is to read it twice (as I did). First time for content and the second time for context (with a pen and notepad) making note of how you can implement the wisdom of the book in your business life. A business book is only as good as the reader being able to apply the knowledge, and this book is rich with applicable strategies. This book should be on every designers bookshelf (if not directly on their desk).
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and practical 15 Sept. 2013
By Bernadette Jiwa - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
I have long been a fan of Eric's writing. I admire his original thinking and the fearless way he expresses his ideas, which he backs up with lightning bolts of clear logic. If you want to be confronted by insights that might just help you to change how you think and work for the better buy this book.
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on design process out there. 13 Sept. 2014
By quinndesign - Published on
This is the best book on design process I have ever read. It presents the reality of design as a problem solving process, with pragmatic information about how to put that into practice. For designers, who are too often considered stylists by their clients, and unfortunately is how they often view themselves, this shows the way to provide a higher level of service to the client, solve real problems and be a true design professional. Eric's first chapter where he blows apart the myths of design is especially effective for students entering the profession and have great confusion about what design really is. This sets the groundwork for what follows, which is a methodical and clear presentation of effective design process. One issue which I do wish more designers took seriously, is the idea of focusing the process on one solution. Too many designers waste time and money working on multiple "options" to provide the client "choices," with the belief that this involves the client in the "process." However, this is actually counter productive, and Eric's clear reasoning of why focusing on one solution is better for the client and a natural outcome of following a correct process, is something I wish all leads of design offices would understand better and employ. The book is full of stories from Eric's own design practice and experiences, which most designers will be able to relate to well. His writing is concise, clear, casual and enjoyable. There is no fluff here. All communication designers should buy this book, read it, and then read it again! and follow his process. This book is a gift to the design profession. Eric, through this book, is attempting to elevate our profession, to help us see ourselves as true problem solvers, and lead designers to a way of achieving that goal.
4.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for anyone in or around the graphic design field 4 May 2014
By Jenn Coyle - Published on
The Design Method is full of practical applications and tips for how to improve efficiency and become better within your design job, especially for designers who work with clients in an agency.

This book is a must-read for anyone in the graphic design, branding, or communication design industry, whether you: are thinking about becoming a designer, are a designer, work with a designer, or are related to someone who is a designer.

The first chapter, Debunking the Creative Myth, spends a good amount of time eradicating the belief that design is art. Eric Karjaluoto makes it apparent to the reader that design is a business and is meant to provide efficient communication solutions for clients. Other revelations: expecting or experiencing brilliance and inspiration are nice but not necessary. Design school is much different than a career in graphic design.

The rest of the book follows the attitude in the first chapter and reminds designers that solving problems is the main goal. In one of my favorite passages, Eric says, "Good design is logical, explicable, efficient, and removed all extraneous details."

Most importantly, The Design Method was created as a go-to guide, enhanced by the fact that there's an index and clearly defined chapters that stay on topic. It's a book to read now, to reference from time to time, and to re-read entirely once a year.

Because of the practicality of the book, it can be dry from time to time, or can feel overwhelming because of the sheer volume of applicable tips. But if you pick up this book, I encourage you to plough through it and promise yourself to re-read it entirely or in sections, as needed.

I'm excited to apply a number of process solutions to my own workflow, especially project numbering and setting up corresponding project folder templates to store digital files.

Nothing was lost by reading it on the Kindle, and I recommend it because the price point is so much lower.
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