Why should designers make more?

28 Oct 2008 - 9:41am
5 years ago
1 reply
393 reads
russwilson
2005

Something I feel VERY strongly about is changing the perceived value of
designers/design
in many companies, and consequently the compensation designers receive
relative to engineers, etc.
I plan to write several articles about this and hopefully have some
impact...

First entry - future ones will have more meat... and if you have any other
sources of material on this,
I would love to have it to link to and reference.

http://www.dexodesign.com/2008/10/28/why-should-designers-make-more-a-miniseries/

Russell Wilson
Vice President of Product Design, NetQoS
Blog: http://www.dexodesign.com

Comments

28 Oct 2008 - 12:23pm
Shaun Bergmann
2007

When I first saw the title of this thread, I processed the word "make" as to
create.
as in "Why should designers create more".
Before I clicked in to read the thread, I was already answering the
question.
"How can't we create more? It's what we do. It's what we love. It's in
our blood."

Of course, you're talking about making more money, but before I clicked in,
I couldn't help but look at the question worded this way, and swapping the
location of the two words; 'designer', 'make':
*"Why should makers design more?"*

(Stick with me here, I'm not really going off on some weird and unrelated
tangent, promise.)

I think the newly worded questions sheds some insight on the problem from a
perspective of the average corporate executive.

In their eyes, are their designers 'designing'? Or are we simply 'making'
things?

Perhaps they don't even distinguish a difference between the two.
"make the button do this."
"make this page load after that happens"
"make them have to fill this out first"
"make that green..."

They may miss out on understanding the fundamental difference between
'designing', and 'making'.

It's a lack of understanding, a lack of knowledge -- an innocent ignorance
of what's required to complete the process.

>From a traditional corporate executive perspective, they know that their
engineers/developers need to have their heads deep in code-land. They have
to understand and be able to work with all that 'mumbo-jumbo', and the
really good ones that do it well can sit down at a terminal and whip up some
voodoo magic of functionality with a maestro's flair at the keyboard. It's
very easy to demonstrate the proficiency and deep knowledge they have with
their skill set. The people in the boardroom have long understood that
'code is hard', and their rockstar developers can easily demonstrate that
when it comes to the bottom line, they can produce functional deliverables
at factory speed.

The designers, on the other hand, live in a more ethereal world of
processes. It can sometimes have the potential to be somewhat thankless, as
the better the designer is -- the less it is they appear to have done.
What I mean by that is that when a designer takes a relatively complicated
set of functional requirements, boils it all down and produces the most
perfect, simple and understandable interaction that 'totally nails it', the
final product is so simple and obvious that it's often looked upon as
"common sense".
"That was easy". The CEO thinks. "What other option was there?"

So in order to "spread the wealth", something has to shift in the
fundamental understanding of design at the top levels. There has to be a
very solid understanding in terms of the bottom line. From a compensation
basis, the only way designers are going to be valued, is when their value
can be quantified in dollars. It needs to be detailed in the cost of
operations.

Therefore, it needs to be clear that was is "made" is what was "designed".
The two terms are NOT interchangable. (It's a bit of a catch22 in some ways,
as in corporations where the designers are not valued, the designers rarely
have the ability to begin the design process at the appropriate stage, and
are often called in well after the engineers have already begun the
'skeleton code', which can greatly hamper the designers ability to design
the right thing)
The engineers can produce functional deliverables at top notch speed, they
can make anything you ask for, but how many times at the 90% completion
stage has some sort of deep problem in functionality reared it's head?
It's the old 90/90 rule:
"*The first 90% of the code accounts for the first 90% of the development
time. The remaining 10% of the code accounts for the other 90% of the
development time*."

The designer's value is directly related to how much that 80% just cost the
company.
Value them early, give them the ablility to first *design *what you are
going to *make*, and eventually -- the numbers will speak for themselves.

Hopefully, over the next few years, there will be access to some solid
numbers to back this up, but I don't know of any such stats at this
juncture.
fingers crossed.

Shaun

On Tue, Oct 28, 2008 at 7:41 AM, Russell Wilson <russ.wilson at gmail.com>wrote:

> Something I feel VERY strongly about is changing the perceived value of
> designers/design
> in many companies, and consequently the compensation designers receive
> relative to engineers, etc.
> I plan to write several articles about this and hopefully have some
> impact...
>
> First entry - future ones will have more meat... and if you have any other
> sources of material on this,
> I would love to have it to link to and reference.
>
>
> http://www.dexodesign.com/2008/10/28/why-should-designers-make-more-a-miniseries/
>
>
>
> Russell Wilson
> Vice President of Product Design, NetQoS
> Blog: http://www.dexodesign.com
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
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