Why Design Is Best Learned in the Classroom

Learning the fundamentals through traditional design education will pay off even as tech and the industry change

Benek Lisefski
Published in
7 min readDec 13, 2019


Photo: Katya Austin via Unsplash

TThere’s a very serious debate raging about whether there’s value at all in going to a college or university anymore. The massive debt pressure you put yourself under for the rest of your life is a strong argument that it’s not worth it. If you leave school with $100K, $50K, or even $25K in debt, can you honestly say your education has given you a leg up in life? It’s difficult to justify it when the power of a degree in the employment market has substantially weakened over the past generation.

That’s not what I’m writing about today, but it’s good context.

If you want to be a designer, I believe there’s still tremendous value in traditional design education. In fact, I credit having one as being a key part of my successful freelance design career.

Why? Design fundamentals.

What are design fundamentals?

It doesn’t matter what kind of designer you are — graphic, digital, web, mobile, interactive, UX, UI, product, branding, [insert your favorite label here]— the same set of underlying fundamentals are what you apply daily to solve visual design challenges. These are things like:

  • Line
  • Shape
  • Color
  • Space/negative space
  • Texture
  • Scale/size
  • Value
  • Contrast
  • Repetition
  • Rhythm
  • Emphasis
  • Weight
  • Balance
  • Typography

Anything on that list you don’t recognize? If so, you may wish to polish up those design fundamentals before your next job. Here’s why.

Why are design fundamentals important?

They are the building blocks of everything creative you produce.

Being a designer without knowing the fundamentals is like being a chef without understanding flavors or being…



Benek Lisefski
Writer for

I’m a UX/UI designer from Auckland, New Zealand. Writing about freelancing & business for indie designers & creatives at https://solowork.co