By Any Other Name...

19 Aug 2010 - 10:27am
5 years ago
6 replies
981 reads

New blog post:

Could this finally end the debate about whether we are designers?


19 Aug 2010 - 12:19pm
Dave Malouf

I'll shoot the 1st contentious retort. The answer is no. It isn't.

Why? Because it reduces the idea of design to "creation" or "creativity" or "creation" (the other one).

Creating an idea is not design ... it is much more specific than that.

I do agree w/ the post in terms of its structure related to how to IA people's jobs, but that is not the same as saying what the definition of a word is or should be and what are the ramifications of that definition.

Sorry Dante,

-- dave

19 Aug 2010 - 2:59pm

Allow me to lob this one over the fence. It comes from Effective UI (Anderson, J., McRee, J., & Wilson, R. (2010). Sebastopol: O'Reilly.):

It is necessary to abandon the assumption that design is just concerned with visual media. Design, very broadly, is the application of creativity and intelligence against solving a problem. Often the problem is a visual one, but the means of solving it is nevertheless an intellectual and creative process. In order to create a visually appealing logo that does a good job of representing a company's brand and goals, a graphic designer embarks on an intensive effort of thought, creativity, experimentation, and trial and error. This is no different at a fundemental level than what a software engineer does to build a component for an application. ... Businesspeople and product managers planning and guiding a project are also undergoing a process of design. They've identified a business problem and are applying their experience, intellect, and creativity against forming an initiative to respond to it, and continue to participate in design as they contemplate challenges and make decisions in shepherding the project along the way (p. 33).

Forgive me if this already went around.

19 Aug 2010 - 4:17pm

Exactly. I prefer this borad definition of design. Sorry for being blunt, but everything we do Design.  We design engineering solutions, we design information architectures, we design interactions. Yes research gets done, stories written, but everyone is a designer of some deliverable. I personally think we are all designers in the sense that we don't do anthing that isn't meat for human consumtion eventually.  We Design user experiences. Period.

19 Aug 2010 - 4:26pm

Mickoner, thanks for posting that.

I, too, agree that there is a design approach to everything. Design has to be broad. There have been so many attempts (drafts) of explinations about what a designer is... when is someone going to create an flowchart/infographic. new project?

By the way...I am so happy I joined this community. You are all awesome.

19 Aug 2010 - 4:28pm

What I meant to write is:

someone should represent what a desinger is with a flowchart/infographic. Seems more relavent for explaining the idea.

28 Aug 2010 - 1:14pm
Dave Malouf

Are we confusing process w/ outcome?

I can apply design as a process to any sort of design outcome, but I can use any other process to any design outcome as well.

So if we are talking about artifacts or outcomes ... These are all designs (sure! I can live w/ that). If we are talking about process, then there are designerly ways of doing things and undesignerly ways of doing things and not everyone does designerly ways nor do they have to.

I am not a Doctor. I do treat myself from time to time. I take aspirin when I have a headache. I give my child Zyrtec when his allergies are up. I am empowered to do all sort of "medical care". This does not mean that I am practicing medicine, or a doctor. Ergo, just b/c you open up X tool, or draw, or create a web site, or even a brochure, doesn't mean you are a designer. Are you on the continuum of "design practice"? Sure, I'll give that, but have you passed the threshold of what it takes/means to be a designer? hell no! Does this make you a bad person? Does this mean that your results are less valuable? Does this mean that you can't or shouldn't be included as a stakeholder in the process of design? hello no!

Engineering != Design; Business Analysis != Design.

There is a long history of what makes design, design stemming from the guild movements of crafts people and master builders (cum architects) of age old. Just because engineers are finding themselves in places w/o real designers so they themselves have to take on the role of dealing with visual assets doesn't mean that they are designers. Nor does it mean that a 1000 years of design (through architecture and guild crafts people) all of sudden gets to be reframed and made completely generic to the point of useless because engineers want to (get to) join in the aesthetic party.

The other side of this coin is about visuals and do you need to have visual communication skills to be a designer. While I have often spoken as if this is true, it is not fully true. To me this is more about quality of designer than definition of designer. Even the best sound designers have visual skills. They have to be able to communicate visually. B/c the vast majority of design artifacts have visual representation (even flow charts and wireframes and task flow diagrams and Contextual Inquiry models) it would seem that the better you are at this the better. Further, I have seen and believe that our ability to visualize abstractly is key to our abilities as IxDs and as strategic designers. I love Luke Wroblewski's workshop at Influencing Strategy with Design b/c it demonstrates so clear how the designer's ability to abstractly represent issues/data meaningfully and visually is how they have been best able to effect and be called upon to influence strategy.

The last side of this very confusing coin is whether or not you have to be a visual designer of the UIs you create. This is all about where you work and what you want to be when you grow up. It also has to do with control. The more you control (same w/ code) the more your designs will look like they are intended. Can collaborations work? SURE! Can they fail? SURE! Can going loan-rogue fail? SURE! But I have seen in the various types of design environments I've worked in that the more YOU can control yourself the more likely that you will succeed in getting to market the largest percentage of your design vision.

Wooo!!! that was a finger full!

-- dave

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