It seems a week doesn’t get by without a post or two in Hacker News about GUI design or graphic design, often entitled something like “Design for Hackers” or “Design for Developers”.
The trouble with all these posts is that they are trying to shortcut the methodology of design by various hacks, even something as lengthy as read 5 books is by-in-large a hack.
There is no substitute for practise, for looking and appreciating your world in a different way (this can be self-taught, I will discuss more below) and for in-depth thinking about what either comes down to communication or feedback problems.
Aesthetics largely is difficult to teach and learn and comes from confidence and a place in the brain that is hard to hack, but communication and interaction is learnt from early childhood by everyone – it just needs opening up and awareness of this as we mature.
By looking at the Design of Everyday Things (the book or the things around you) you begin to appreciate or notice the failures in signs, handles, buttons, phones, car controls, packaging and if you are tuned into this way of thinking it can be hard to stop considering the amount of interactions with “things” we have everyday.
Then taking this body of knowledge that is learnt one can then start objectively looking at one’s own design and interaction problems, using the same tools that you have been using to analyse potential problems as they occur and working them out to find the best solution. But knowledge of the best solution will also come from practise of working with the constraints of whatever medium are working in (for example print, application, touch screen, architecture or furniture design).
This practise will mean mistakes – this is an important part of the learning process, just as it was when growing up, you will learn what works and doesn’t work and in the future intuitively work with this in mind.