Check out the D blog for thougths on Design Planning and The Economics of Design

13 Apr 2007 - 6:22pm
1082 reads
Chris Bernard

Little did I know until today that one of my good friends and former teachers has started his own blog what you can see here:

The D blog is by Jeremy Alexis, a faculty member at The Institute of Design (<>) . It's primary purpose is to summarize what it passed on in his class each week. Every post is a worthwhile read.

Here's a few great posts to get started with some choice quotes.


The design planning skill-set (

Always a contentious issue, I think Jeremy and his class do a great job putting boundaries around what it is and isn't.

"The man who grasps principles can successfully choose his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

ID is a method-focused school, but we cannot lose sight of the fact that methods alone have no value. Only when a principled designer (with the right skill set) applies them will they yield any value. This week's discussion centered on the skill set and principles of the successful design planner.

It is worth taking a moment to talk about design planning, and what we mean when we say "we are a planning school". Planning is the opposite of doing. For most of its history, design has been focused on the "doing" part, which usually meant making things (like products and communications). Recently, however, the economics of the profession have changed, due to global logistics and technology, and solely focusing on the "doing" side of the equation is no longer (in many cases) a viable business model for design firms and designers.

Even though we are a planning school, that does not mean we aren't interested in the "doing" side. The result of our work should be a tangible product, communication, or experience. We recognize, however, that to survive as a profession, we need to participate in the "what to make" conversations, and not just be satisfied to acquiesce when told: "go make this".


11 things you should have learned in economics and design (

Here's two.

Incentives matter. A lot
Economists look at the world through the lens of incentives. Most outcomes, good and bad, can be explained though the application (or misapplication) of incentives. And, they believe, if you want to change behavior (invest more, commit less crime), you can create a set of incentives to trigger this behavior change. As designers, our work is also concerned with behavior change (making things easier, trying something new). We rarely, if ever, consider how to apply an incentive strategy along with our new design, or how our new design may work/not work with an existing incentive strategy. Design of incentives is a powerful new frontier for our profession, and should be integrated into our everyday work.

Design creates and destroys value
Every time we put pen to paper, we are either creating or destroying value for customers and businesses. We destroy value by designing things that can never be implemented, or do not solve for real user needs. We also destroy value by creating "shelfware", or design briefs that only serve to weigh down file cabinets. We create value by identifying opportunity spaces, and then providing real options for taking advantage of those opportunity spaces. We also create value by energizing and inspiring the organizations we work for. Designers should be obsessed with creating value; this frame of reference should guide everything we do.

Chris Bernard
User Experience Evangelist
chris.bernard at<mailto:chris.bernard at>

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