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Darshan Gajara, Product Designer & Maker of ProductDisrupt, Shares His ‘’Secret Weapon’’ Book for Designers

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Darshan Gajara is the maker of Product Disrupt, a website dedicated to all the curious folks who want to learn design.

Darshan is a computer engineer turned freelance product designer, driven by his passion for making products while helping others do the same – or even better.

Since most of his skills have been developed with the help of the internet, he’s a strong believer of giving back to the internet. This is one of the reasons why he created Product Disrupt, his side project, where he shares his disruptive list of resources that made him a Product Designer.

He also does that by sharing the codes that he’s written, design freebies, and knowledge that he gains from his own experience.

Darshan is experienced in delivering end-to-end product solutions for BookMyShow, India’s top ticketing portal, and building Wishberry, a crowdfunding platform for creatives. He also worked towards building a community of design enthusiasts for Panda Network.

In the past 6 years he’s been working as an independent Product Design Consultant for startups across the world, from India (where he’s based) to UAE, Canada, US and UK.

When he’s not writing posts related to product design, he’ll share his travel stories – such as this one about the 14-days backpacking trip he took last December to North India.

We’re grateful that Darshan accepted to share with us his favorite books, what he learned from them, and how stories get stored in his mind as photographs – keep on reading to learn more.

Estimated reading time for this interview is 7 minutes. If you'd rather listen to it, you can do it on iTunes, Google Play or Stitcher.

What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.

My favorite business/design book is ‘Design for a Perfect Screen’ by Tal Florentin. I was in my early days as a Designer when I picked up this book. Tal’s writing is so crisp and clean. He seamlessly makes one aware of the most basic principles of design and provides actionable insights to execute them.

I’ve lost count of the number of folks whom I’ve recommended this book. I believe it’s a must read for all those early in their career as a designer or those enthusiastic about it. I just can’t recommend it enough.

My favorite non-business book from the limited number of books I’ve read is ‘Eleven Minutes’ by Paulo Coelho. I was 17 when I picked up this book. And like any other small town boy in India, self-discovery, adventure and sex were foreign entities to me.

Going through Maria’s story (main character in the book) alone, my eyes were wide open to the outside world and provided me with courage to break free from my own little bubble and start exploring.

Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell me about it?

It would be difficult and unfair to pinpoint to a specific moment. I believe whatever we intellectually and emotionally consume stays in our mind forever and our future actions are then subconsciously influenced by it.

Having said that, reading e-books and articles online on design have been of great help to me. There’ve been number of occasions where I was able to circle back to a few concepts learned from a particular book in order to support my argument.

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What books had the biggest impact on you? (perhaps changed the way you see things, dramatically changed your career path)

It’s funny how I keep referencing that one book in most of my answers here, but can’t lie about it.

Tal Florentin’s ‘Design for a Perfect Screen’ has clearly had the biggest of impacts on me as a designer. The way I pursue design and user psychologically dramatically changed after I read this book.

I no longer make random guesses when making a particular design decision instead my design decisions are now based on the core principles and understanding of the user base.

What books would you recommend to youngsters interested in your professional path? Why? (no number limit here)

I’m interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How often do you read? In what format?

As you might have guessed it already, I’m not an avid book reader. However, I do read a lot online.

Every morning, before resuming my regular work, I spend an hour or 2 reading articles from the sources I’ve mentioned on Product Disrupt. I read a few more articles between work as and when they show up and sometimes also before calling it a day.

Every once in a while, I pick up some not-so-lengthy e-books and read it during my work commute or long travels.

To answer your questions about formats, I absolutely prefer e-books. PDFs or the ones that can be read on some kind of a mobile application. I’m a collector of many things, but physical books aren’t one of them.

How do you make time for reading?

As explained earlier, I’ve a routine. So, I don’t have to go over my way to make time for reading. I also believe if you’re really interested in something, you’ll automatically make time for it otherwise it’s just empty excuses.

Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information?

I’ve a vision disease, but my mind makes up for it. I can remember slightly better than a normal person and stories get stored in my mind as photographs. So, I don’t have to take notes while reading. However, I’ve made it a practice to write down any actionable items from the books I read.

How do you choose what books to read next?

My choice of books to read is usually influenced by the sources I follow for regular design and business wisdom.

And once in a while, I’ll pick up some books recommended by people I work with and close friends.

Do you prioritize the books recommended by certain people? Is there anyone that you consider a book-recommendations guru?

I guess I’ve answered this in the previous question. Although there are folks like Tobias van Schneider, James Clear and Anoop Anthony who recommend some special gems every now and then.

Last question: what book are you currently reading and what are you expecting to gain from it?

Currently, I’m not reading any book, but soon looking to pick up ‘Crush It!’ by Gary Vaynerchuk and eagerly awaiting the launch of books by Paul Jarvis and Jason Zook.

Links where you can follow Darshan Gajara or find out more about his projects:

All books mentioned by Darshan Gajara in this interview:

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