I came across a great blog by Rebecca, she’s a UI and interaction designer based in the UK. She had a great post today on evolving design practice and the ideal design curriculum. She quotes from an interview with Hugh Dubberly, entitled “Becoming a Digital Designer.” The interview is from 2006, but I found it still very pertinent. Dubberly’s feelings toward design and it’s purpose is right on. Thanks Rebecca for this great find;
I believe design should make the world better. It should serve people.
It should make things stronger, faster, clearer—and cheaper. It
should surprise. It should engage. It should delight.
I believe design is a collaborative process. In that sense, design is
political. It is a sort of discussion. And the designer’s role is to help
facilitate the discussion. The traditional tools of drawing and prototyping
are remarkably helpful in this role. Sometimes the subject of
the discussion is abstract. In such times, designers must be able
to prototype abstractions—they must be able to create models,
which are simply tools for thinking.
I believe designers should root their work in the context of its
use. We must understand our audience. Who are they? What do
they believe? What do they want? At the same time, we must
understand the economic systems and technologies which make
products possible. All three equations—audience, business, and
technology—must be solved simultaneously.
Click here to view the entire interview with Hugh Dubberly, “Becoming a Digital Designer” article.
When I’m faced with an industrial design challenge sometimes I spend too much time focusing on project restraints. This can cause a major problem by diverting your attention away from the true needs of a customer. It can be especially troublesome during the early stages of development. While working through the initial ideating and sketching, look for ways to set aside the looming budget and manufacturing restraints. Allow yourself the freedom to have uninhibited fun finding product solutions. Ironically, many solutions won’t wander that far “out of the box.”
In a nutshell, visual cues are elements of a design that communicate its purpose and method of use. Common cues have developed over time out of repetitive use, natural association with other cues, and common sense (or the minds natural processes).
These cues are vital to the success of a product. If a person is confused by the cues he/she is left to read pages of instructions. If the cues are wrong he/she will feel betrayed and put-off. If they are obvious, descriptive, and accurate the individual will enjoy their natural like experience.
Have you ever entered a public building and pushed on a door, then realize after your face smacks the glass you were suppose to pull? Usually, you feel kind of dumb and look around to make sure no one noticed, but most likely this could have been a result of poor cues. This happened to me recently, going into Office Max. The first set of doors had a large flat area, perfect for pushing, yet it was meant to pull. The second set had the exact same handle, yet it was a push. Sure, I could have read the large print which described the appropriate action, but my point still stands. Better visual cues = better customer experience.
I’m interested in your experiences, what have you done to design better descriptive cues?
To some of you this may be old news, but I’ve been noticing a change in designer skill sets required by companies. The old way relied on a designer that had great sketching, innovation processes, and communication/presentation skills. This individual would spend most of their time sketching. Then, once a direction was picked, the designer would spend the rest of their time guiding a digital/traditional model maker. As you can see this relies on two people who each know one and a half “languages.” The designer is proficient in the language of 2D and somewhat familiar with 3D. The modeler, on the other hand, is well versed in 3D and lacking in 2D. Together they battle back and forth trying to communicate, eventually producing the final product.
Today’s valued designer is bilingual, well equipped in both 2D and 3D languages. This has two benefits.
1. It produces a cost savings by reducing head-count.
2. It shortens the translation time between languages.
If you’re still in school and find yourself gravitating towards one language, be sure to dedicate some of your time to the other. If you are a design professional, look for opportunities to gain other languages. Maybe you’re already proficient in 2D and 3D, looking for a third skill could only make you more valuable. What other languages have you picked up, and how have the benefited you? Feel free to share.