This is a topic that has reared its ugly head quite a few times in my career and a phrase that I’ve heard spoken more than once. Some designers get into situations at some point in their career where their skills are overlooked or undermined or worse, where design is an afterthought thought left to whoever has design tools at their disposal. Sometimes it’s just an organizational fault and the design process is separated from other parts of the organization. Designers are a creative bunch, but there’s much more behind the scenes that drives us and makes us do what we do. This is an attempt to outline some of those things:
Design allows us to always be uncovering and learning new things all the time. As designers we must discover in order to create. This process can take shape in many ways but it’s arguably the most important - and for some - rewarding part of the process. Everything we discover plays into how we problem solve, how we strategize and eventually how we put all the pieces together.
We are by default and for reasons that are maybe more innate than we realize, problem solvers. We investigate, we ask questions, we challenge existing paradigms, we break the rules. Why? Because we strive to do something innovative, something new and maybe unexpected. We want to know the ins and outs of why something works or doesn’t work. We tinker, pull things apart and put them back together. We have tools that help us produce designs, but the problem solving aspect of design is what helps us figure out what the right design decisions are and it’s the foundation of what we do.
If design does one thing well, it communicates. It doesn’t just communicate, but it communicates clearly, concisely and creatively. Throughout discovery and problem solving a voice and tone start to unravel into a style of messaging that impacts how we talk about and present whatever it is that we’re designing. We get to see a personality unfold and develop into something real, but we also get to shape that personality and mold it into what feels like a living, breathing thing.
THE BIG PICTURE
Design is a means to and end. Maybe we’re designing a piece of software, a Website or a postcard. Whatever it may be, the piece of work produced has a purpose, an intent of some sort. All of the work and digging that happens before we sit down and create pixel perfect screens plays into how the big picture and how we design for the intent. For example let’s say I’m designing an expense tracking system. In simple terms users needs an application to track expenses. However, if we look at the big picture we’ll probably discover that different users have much different requirements, all of which need to be accounted for in one neat little interface.
When you take these things out of the equation or you take the designer out of the equation design is really just about pretty pictures. Luckily over the past few years, a lot of organizations have become more educated on the topic of design and how to properly implement it in an organization. There are various different ways to do it right. Acknowledging flaws in the system is ok and a good first step towards making change. Fostering a good environment for design is always a challenge but thankfully is also something that can morph and change over time. Don’t be afraid to make change and be a pioneer in your company. It just takes one person to start a revolution.
So I’ve been working with the wonderful Adobe Ideas sketching application for the iPad for the past few days. It’s a really great tool with very minor frustrations, overall fantastic though. I wanted to start capturing my ideas on what I would change or add. This is where I’m at so far.
You have to see it large to see notes: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jesseddy/4835494208/sizes/l/
Side note: Kevin Burg inspired this post.