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Think Like a Visual Designer


Think Like a Visual Designer


Class Description


  • Consider your audience and content first in the design thinking process
  • Understand universal design principles including information hierarchy, typography, alignment and more.
  • Apply design principles to practical project examples including resumes, presentations, spreadsheets, social media posts, and email signatures.
  • Approach problem-solving with the appropriate principles and vocabulary, whether as a designer, team member, or client.


Great design is invisible.

Design is not about what a product looks like; it’s about understanding and outcomes. It has the power to communicate ideas, influence people, and impact your business. But too often, we put too much emphasis on how something looks. We let the message get stifled by colors, fonts, and layouts.

As attention spans shrink and increased screen time changes how we consume information, a design thinking approach has the potential to help us get customers, colleagues, and clients to understand our message and take action.

You don’t need to work at IDEO or Apple to design innovative solutions to complex problems. Nor do you need to go to MIT or Stanford’s to learn design methodology. In this class, Sarah Doody leverages her 15-year background in user experience design to teach you how to go beyond aesthetic and truly think like a designer.


This class is for creatives of all levels: visual designers, entrepreneurs, those considering a career change to the design field, design team members, clients working with designers, and professionals looking to apply design thinking to yield standout work.


Sarah Doody is a User Experience Design Consultant based in NYC. She helps companies and entrepreneurs assess product ideas, understand their customers, and design and launch products. For companies already in the market, she guides businesses to reach their goals through optimizing their User Experience (UX).

She’s the creator of The UX Notebook, an education company that helps you learn how to think like a UX designer though a popular weekly newsletter, online UX courses, and in person workshops and talks worldwide. Sarah’s work has been featured in the New York Times, Net Magazine, and UX Magazine. Some of her clients include WeWork, Domino Magazine, General Assembly, Government of Pennsylvania, TicTail, Blue Apron, and Vice.

Additional links: 

LinkedIn | UX Notebook


  1. Class Introduction

    What is the purpose of design? Discover the world around you from a different point of view and learn how design manifests in your daily life. Sarah lays out what you will learn in this course.

  2. Why Design Matters

    What is the relationship between human needs and design? Sarah introduces Don Norman’s concept of the “Norman Door” and demonstrates the effect of poor design. Learn why a design approach is essential to successful business.

  3. Design vs. Aesthetic

    Sarah explains the relationship between design and aesthetic and the influence of both on user experience.

  4. Impact of Design

    How does strategic design impact business outcomes? Sarah reveals the economic impact of design on real companies and breaks down design into the simplest terms. Learn the impact of design on your brain’s ability to process information.

  5. The Design Process: Understand Your Audience

    What does Einstein have to do with human-centered design? How do conventional problem-solving practices leave unmet needs? Learn what questions to ask when approaching a design project and how to best understand your audience.

  6. The Design Process: Understand Your Content

    What are the dangers of designing without understanding your content first? Sarah cautions with real life examples of what can go wrong and what questions to ask to ensure your insight on content is clear.

  7. Design Principle: Alignment, Grids, and Spacing

    Sarah dives into the first design principle lesson: what is the power of alignment and grids? How does spacing influence what information we perceive and how we understand it? Sarah demonstrates how quick alignment fixes immediately impact readability.

  8. Design Principles: Contrast

    What are the benefits of contrast and when do you use it? Sarah uses an example social media content calendar to show how contrast can help train your brain to achieve faster understanding of content.

  9. Design Principles: Repetition

    Isn’t repetition boring? Learn how repetition actually increases understanding and its power in aiding brand awareness and user recall. Sarah shows how repetition is not only helpful for an audience, but for a presenter as well.

  10. Design Principle: Hierarchy & Proximity

    What effect do hierarchy and proximity have on your audience’s understanding of information? See before and after examples from a business card and website, and tune into Sarah’s thinking process to establish clear hierarchy of content.

  11. Principle Scale and Balance

    Learn how scale and balance affect user experience and allow your audience to access information in a comfortable and logical manner.

  12. Design Principles: Typography

    What emotional effect does typography have on your audience and how do fonts affect readability of text? In this digital age, you have seconds to capture your user’s attention; Sarah shares typography dos and don’ts and insight into which layout factors to consider in the design process.

  13. Design Principles: White Space

    Build your design eye muscle and watch as Sarah demonstrates how white space affects a business card and table of contents. Learn how design thinkers approach and apply white space.

  14. Design Principles: Color

    Color is powerful and should be used strategically and sparingly. Learn basic color theory, including the emotional effect of color, its relationship to contrast, and how to use it as a tool to influence your audience’s intake of information and even user action.

  15. Design Principles: Graphics, Icons, and Photos

    How do the use of graphics, icons, and photos evoke different feelings about your brand? Sarah shows side by side comparisons of the power of imagery on your user’s perception of your content. Learn the impact of consistency.

  16. Design Principles: Layouts and Focal Points

    Sarah visually models the impact of layout on your reader’s ability to access your content. Learn how to approach layout design and utilize the rule of thirds to create focal points.

  17. Design Principles: Color-Blind Accessibility in Design

    How do you design for color-blind users without losing your message or meaning? Sarah shares examples and online tools that allow you to understand how to make your product design accessible.

  18. Example: Resume Design

    Enter the world of live design with Sarah as she applies the design principles to a resume. Who is the “user” in this case? What factors should you consider and how do you design with these in mind? Sarah models how to critique the existing resume and shows potential solutions.

  19. Example: Social Media Post Design

    Sarah applies the design thinking framework to social media: what are the needs of your social media user? Which questions should you ask and what factors should you consider? What unique tools do social media platforms offer? Sarah shows how to use content, imagery, and white space to make information catchy and accessible.

  20. Example: Presentation Design

    Presentations ranging from reviews to proposals are essential to business decision-making - how do you design standout presentations that propel your audience to act? Sarah edits a marketing presentation in real-time, modeling how to go from text-heavy to visually accessible. Learn simple tricks as Sarah narrates her design process.

  21. Example: Charts and Spreadsheets Design

    Watch as Sarah live designs a spreadsheet that is more accessible and functional. See how to ideate and experiment, testing potential solutions.

  22. Example: Email Signature Design

    First impressions make a big difference, and in our increasingly online world, first encounters often happen via email. Sarah takes a design approach toward email signatures: consider your audience and their needs. Sarah closes with a key take away: the value of design thinking.


Natalie Santana

I wish more people knew, appreciated, and respected the content Sarah covers in this course. Design is such a critical piece of the functionality of the tools we use every day but its often disregarded as "fluff" or just "aesthetic". Sarah does an outstanding job of establishing the importance and methodology of design for beginners. I would recommend this course to literally everyone.


Definitely recommend! This course is aimed towards people who don't make a living as a designer but are exposed to it in everyday life—even if they're unaware. Your resume? Design. Your social media posts? Design. Your spreadsheets? Yep, design. Sarah does an awesome job giving an overview about what design is and actionable things you can do to improve. The "live design" portion is awesome and it's where she re-designs/improves documents, mostly on the fly. She goes through her thought process so viewers can learn to think like a visual designer. I would definitely enroll in another class, especially if she chose to focus more in-depth on a few design principles for the entire class.

Jorge Martinez

Awesome Class! highly recommend.