Design is powerful method to help manifest the potential in anything. Making things more of what they could be is naturally exciting and something I want to do more of.
Design is the rendering of intent – Jared Spool
It’s a method because at it’s best design is a conscious, deliberate and logical process.
Non-designers think of design as a mostly visual process. But design starts long before the ‘making things pretty’ stage, even if it’s not recognised and is unconscious and assumption-riddled.
What I call Design
Design means acknowledging the importance of small decisions and being informed by big-picture considerations when making them.
Design is not something extra that’s applied after engineering. It’s an integral part of making anything – and starts as soon as the idea does. Every decision that affects the the product or service and how it’ll be used, by who and what for, can be improved with a conscious design process.
There are mant facets to design and the visual is just one. The traditional fields of design can’t be isolated until the very last steps – and in today’s design world not even then. For example, in the web design industry prototypes are being built in a live, functioning environment where designers and developers work together. Words, images and functions must be in unison so for a product to be intuitive and remove as much cognitive overhead as possible. And on top of this, all that goes into a website must fit into an even bigger picture of the organisation’s strategy which extends into the real world.
Of course there are technical tasks that can happen independently. Although performed by ‘designers,’ they aren’t strictly design. What many people call design, such as the creation of graphics, I wouldn’t. I’d call that a technical skill, or perhaps, specifically ‘graphic design.’
The higher quality the firm or agency, the more this is understood. But when you get away from the cutting-edge, the concept of design starts to fragment and loses it’s meaning.
The absence of design means a likely mismatch between the goals of the organisation (provider, person, company) and user (customer, client, person).
If you create something unconsciously, focusing on the purely mechanical aspects of the solution you want to provide, you might spend less effort but you’ll leave potential locked up.
In this situation, both parties end up frustrated and unrewarded. Don’t be one of those who just miss out on making the world better.
Whenever you make something without entering a conscious design process, you’re riding on a murky river of assumptions.
Design exponentially increases the value of a thing. The less assumptions you make, the more design you’re doing, whether you call it that or not. If you’re aware of the decisions you’re making, then ‘design’ can be a word for that. You can use it to explain to people that there’s something important going on.
And you can ask for help with the design process, if you need it in order to help the product reach it’s potential.
If you’re creating something that is going to be used (everything is), you need design. That is, you need to decide on the variables involved, such as the goals of both parties (the user/customer and provider/organisation) and enter, with full awareness, the process of problem-preventing called design.
This allows us to optimise the product for greater congruency between the goals of the user and organisation.
Design is never the same
It can involve research, if necessary. The larger the project, the more resources, time and the higher the stakes, the more research you’ll want to do. Sometimes you won’t feel it’s necessary, and that’s OK too. Design means conscious decisions, not the same process all the time.
But each project and each team will warrant slightly altered processes. It might be more conversational than technical, or vice versa. There might be lengthy research with interviews inside the company’s team as well as with the target user-base, or not.
But even if it’s just one person having a good think and doing a few extra sketches, it should always be a conscious part of a bigger picture.