While you and I have lips and voices which are for kissing and to sing with, who cares if some one-eyed son of a bitch invents an instrument to measure Spring with? — E.E. Cummings
To me, design is…
A short extract from my current read, Mental Models…
Adult: If you’re not going to finish your milk, please put your sippy cup in the refrigerator.
Adult: That’s what we do. We put it there so it won’t go bad.
Adult: Well, it will start to smell bad and eventually grow mould.
Toddler: What’s mould?
Adult: It’s slimy black stuff that will grow in your sippy cup if you leave it out on the counter.
What a great metaphor! As creators of things I don’t feel we ask “why?” nearly enough.
The theory is that as we grow up, we gain a sense of pride that makes us more sensitive to challenging our elders. But in design, we need to retain that inquisitive attitude when we talk to stakeholders, colleagues, clients or users so that we learn the real facts.
Listening and prompting allows us to get to the bottom of things and this gives us the knowledge to design something even better; to exceed expectations.
Often what’s suggested isn’t what’s actually needed. We’ve all heard colleagues say: “I’m no designer but… we need this”. Or maybe when interviewing users: “I think I would do this”. Asking “why?” allows us to understand more about their rationale. Maybe it’s not the colleagues job to think things through and their idea isn’t the right solution. And the user interviewee may be telling you what they think they should say, rather than what they would actually do.
Open questions open a dialogue allowing designers to get to the bottom of wicked problems, in turn allowing us to craft wicked solutions.
So this is your excuse as a designer - find your inner three-year-old. It maybe unnatural for us to ask why and it can be daunting. But why?.. What’s the worst that can happen?
The first paragraph of the foreward from Mental Models, my latest read…
"You’re researching the creativity out of this project!"
"I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard designers, developers and even business owners say this. It usually comes just after a project has begun. Designers just want to start designing, developers just want to start writing code, managers want the thing to ship - so why are we spending all this time talking? And this stuff just seem so obvious. Do we really need users to tell us what we already know?" - Jeff Veen
I relate to this. It summarises a large part of my constant uphill struggle to evangelise good design practice on pretty much a daily basis. How many others face the same frustrations I wonder?
So I’m looking forward to finding some answers in this book and if this is anything to go by, I think I will too.
Mental Models, Indi Young
(Source: nevver, via khalweir)
I used to find Lipsum useful. One of the big frustrations of being an agency designer was that we designed and built, and the clients did the content.
When clients buy CMS, they think “Sweet! I’ve got this fantastic high-tech product that’s going to look after the content for me.” So while we were trying to get their site launched, the pressure is off them.
Lipsum was great at that point. Just ‘design’ and fill in the spaces with Lipsum and it didn’t stop us getting on with the project. Actually though, that’s the problem right there. How can you design a message without knowing what the message is?
Lipsum was never made for the web and isn’t right for it. Unlike print designers who design static pieces, we design dynamic interactive templates for specific pieces of content. That means we need at least some kind of content strategy before we design. We need to be informed so that we can present the right content to the user in the right way at the right time.
There are alternatives to Lipsum that are far superior and do allow us designers to design effectively; draft content or page descriptions for example.
So what’s with all these themed Lipsum generators that emerge through the twittersphere more often than I have hot dinners? They’re only there for the designers amusement right? How selfish when we should be thinking about who’s going to use the design. Themed Lipsum generators glamourise ‘non content’, encouraging bad, ineffective design.
Next time you use Baconipsum, Cakeipsum or bloody Samuel L Ipsum stop thinking about yourself for a moment. Put your foot down and don’t go any further until the real content has been worked out. Design to please your users, not yourself.
Love this… Hillman Curtis’ guiding principals for creative professionals:
Where do good ideas come from? The adjacent possible, slow hunches and serendipity.
What you should really design is the memory, not the experience. — Don Norman
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