Learn to see appreciatively.
Many of us are conditioned to stop seeing what is around us in an appreciative way. If we follow a set routine we often stop paying much attention to the details. Well, beauty lies in the details! However, we must see those details with a fresh and appreciative eye. Think about what you see every day. Ask yourself why it appeals to you. And look for new reasons to appreciate it.
For example, many New Yorkers tend to hold a negative view of Times Square, one of the most colorful man-made spectacles in the world. They lose their ability to appreciate its visual virtues. Why?
Often, they simply adopt the viewpoint that 'it's a tourist trap'. Is there genuine merit in that viewpoint? In other words, should something be considered worthless simply because millions people are willing to travel thousands of miles to see it? We can easily adopt a negative viewpoint. even a prejudice, simply because it is the viewpoint held by our peers. That is not a valid basis for forming an opinion.
To see without prejudice is a vital quality in becoming a web designer. Of course, there are limits. We may rightfully reject what is shocking or offensive. However, appreciative observers look for the good in any given situation, and reject the prevailing tendency to coat everything with a negative brush.
Good designers are lifelong students of observation. They understand that the ability to see is a muscle that needs to be used and strengthened to become better. They tend to be optimists who look for the good in any given situation. They approach other cultures with the intent of learning and appreciating. It is much like adding new words and language to our visual vocabulary.
Advertising tends to skew our ability to see appreciatively. It promotes the false notion that having rather than seeing is what makes us better at our craft. Do you want to be better at your craft? Buy the latest tools we are told, upgrade to the newest gadgets. That viewpoint can short-circuit our ability to cultivate what matters most in web design: the eye and the heart.
There is an obsession with the tools and technique of web design. However, the best tool for web design, (or any visual discipline) lies within us. The ability to see appreciatively.