Brad has a long history in music outside of being a web designer, and draws some interesting parallels. One is that he had reached for more complex music in an effort to become a better musician — and developers can do the same thing. The other is that the composition of music can be seen from very large parts down to very tiny parts, just like atomic design.
I have two go-to connections between music and web design myself.
- Expectation of practice. Learning to play a musical instrument has a healthy cultural expectation: to get good at it, you have to practice. I'd love to see that expectation make its way more clearly into absolutely everything else in the world, from ironing clothes to inventing soups to writing code.
- Learning from multiple angles. Everybody who is actually good at a thing has learned it from 100 angles. You read books, you practice, you watch YouTube videos, you take a lesson, you go to school, you go out and live it, you get a mentor, you squeeze yourself into social circles. This is true for music (nobody learns from a single source) and equally true for web design (getting good comes from a breadth of experiences).
Allow me to quote myself:
People are obsessed with asking musicians if they’re self-taught. Like, if they are, their amazingness triples because it means their creative genius was delivered by a lightning bolt at birth. They don't need anyone else to learn; they merely look at those guitar strings and know what to do.
And if they were taught by a teacher, then, well, that's all out the door. If they are good at all, then it's because the teacher delivered that to them.
People learn anything — music and web development included — inside a hurricane of influences. Let’s stick with music for a second. Learning to play comes in many forms. You learn by listening to music an awful lot. You can do fundamental practice, like finger exercises and going up and down scales. You can learn to transpose chords on a chalkboard. You can watch YouTube all day and night. You can sign up for online courses. You can go to local jams to watch and play along. You can join a band. You can take lessons from someone advertising on Craigslist. You can go to a local music school. You can read books about music.
You get the idea.
You can and probably will do all of that. With learning web design and development, getting anywhere will involve all sorts of ways. There’s no silver bullet. It takes bashing on it lots of different ways. There’s no requirement to sprinkle money on it, but you do need multiple angles, time, and motivation.