design process - and my role

20 Jan 2008 - 9:48am
6 years ago
6 replies
610 reads
Mark Schraad
2006

I am going to hijack this tangent from the UCD discussion for the
moment.

Lots of designers fight their changing roles. From the independent
role where I get to decide everything that is 'design' to a
management role where I shepherd great work, or to a collaborative
environment with shared design responsibility - change is hard.
Design by committee is a much maligned notion, but a collaborate
group of designers with a single vision is extraordinarily powerful.
Giving up the egocentric vision of 'I am THE designer' is difficult,
but when you see how much better the work can be, working in teams
becomes an obvious choice.

BTW - that single vision is not about what the end product will be,
look like or act like... it is about the results. How will that final
deliverable perform? How will it match the criteria the client set,
the goals of the design team, and the needs exposed and defined
through the research? Personally, I very much like sharing the
vision, the process and the results.

Mark

David Malouf said:

> No, I'm not saying that I only want to be in a particular phase.
> I'm saying that ideation is more powerful part of the whole than the
> craft.
> If I can also guide and challenge the craft and validate it and define
> how it should come out, than the crafts person then becomes a chisel
> weilded by me, or becomes a partner engaged in the same level of
> creative composition from our mutually different areas of expertise.
>

On Jan 19, 2008, at 11:33 PM, Jack Moffett wrote:

I'm right there with you, Dave. Depending on the project, I may end up
building the HTML and CSS for the front end of the application. In
another project, I'll create Photoshop renderings of screens and write
specifications to go with them, and then work with a developer to make
sure they get implemented as I intend. For another task, I may do some
pencil sketches to work out high-level design and then hand them off
to another designer to work out the details. One thing is certain: as
our company grows, I get stretched thinner. In the future, I expect to
be doing a lot more ideation and direction of others, and a lot less
pixel-pushing.

Comments

20 Jan 2008 - 2:36pm
Jack L. Moffett
2005

On Jan 20, 2008, at 9:48 AM, Mark Schraad wrote:

> Giving up the egocentric vision of 'I am THE designer' is difficult,
> but when you see how much better the work can be, working in teams
> becomes an obvious choice.

Yes, I completely agree. I certainly didn't mean to sound like a
"design dictator". I constantly collaborate with the developers
writing the code and others involved in the project. However, I'm
currently the only IxDer at my company, so I really am 'THE designer',
just not 'THE decision maker'.

Jack

Jack L. Moffett
Interaction Designer
inmedius
412.459.0310 x219
http://www.inmedius.com

The public is more familiar with
bad design than good design.
It is, in effect, conditioned
to prefer bad design, because
that is what it lives with.
The new becomes threatening,
the old reassuring.

- Paul Rand

20 Jan 2008 - 3:13pm
Mark Schraad
2006

I think there is an important distinction here. Collaboration with
others who are not designers is a pretty easy thing to do (though
that is where we get into the 'you not a designer' conversation about
making choices and decisions). Collaborating with other designers,
which is what Dave Malouf was referring to, is much more complex.
Every designer should have the opportunity for this sort of
collaborative experience.

On Jan 20, 2008, at 2:36 PM, Jack Moffett wrote:
>
> On Jan 20, 2008, at 9:48 AM, Mark Schraad wrote:
>
>> Giving up the egocentric vision of 'I am THE designer' is difficult,
>> but when you see how much better the work can be, working in teams
>> becomes an obvious choice.
>
> Yes, I completely agree. I certainly didn't mean to sound like a
> "design dictator". I constantly collaborate with the developers
> writing the code and others involved in the project. However, I'm
> currently the only IxDer at my company, so I really am 'THE designer',
> just not 'THE decision maker'.
>
>

20 Jan 2008 - 3:20pm
Jack L. Moffett
2005

On Jan 20, 2008, at 3:13 PM, Mark Schraad wrote:

> Every designer should have the opportunity for this sort of
> collaborative experience.

Again, I am in complete agreement. I have had that opportunity, and
much prefer it.

Jack

Jack L. Moffett
Interaction Designer
inmedius
412.459.0310 x219
http://www.inmedius.com

It's not about the world of design;
it's about the design of the world.

- Bruce Mau

20 Jan 2008 - 9:03pm
Jim Leftwich
2004

I think the way Mark started this thread, by couching it in the
strident phrase, "'I am THE designer' and characterizing the
non-team approach as "egocentric" polarizes and greatly
oversimplifies the spectrum of successful approaches found in our
field.

Both "Design by committee" and "Genius (or egocentric) Design"
are polarized, oversimplified strawmen. These terms and categories
invite people to "take sides," rather than examine carefully and
thoughtfully the complexities, nuances, and overlapping constraints,
approaches, stakeholder balances, and real world messiness that
pervades design and development.

Design by individual or by collaboration need not be hard categories
at war with one another, or claiming the other approach is devoid of
value or potential valid success. Most designers experience a range
of these approaches, and each has associated skills and situations
and enviroments where each, or a blend with a particular ratio will
work.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=24799

20 Jan 2008 - 10:09pm
Mark Schraad
2006

I do not disagree Jim. I tend to think simplification and contrast
are appropriate for this forum. But the topic certainly deserves a
richer conversation. Maybe that comes in the form of a blog, article,
paper, book or conference - and should be encouraged. I wish I was
going to be in Savannah.

Mark

On Jan 20, 2008, at 1:03 PM, Jim Leftwich wrote:

> I think the way Mark started this thread, by couching it in the
> strident phrase, "'I am THE designer' and characterizing the
> non-team approach as "egocentric" polarizes and greatly
> oversimplifies the spectrum of successful approaches found in our
> field.
>
> Both "Design by committee" and "Genius (or egocentric) Design"
> are polarized, oversimplified strawmen. These terms and categories
> invite people to "take sides," rather than examine carefully and
> thoughtfully the complexities, nuances, and overlapping constraints,
> approaches, stakeholder balances, and real world messiness that
> pervades design and development.
>
> Design by individual or by collaboration need not be hard categories
> at war with one another, or claiming the other approach is devoid of
> value or potential valid success. Most designers experience a range
> of these approaches, and each has associated skills and situations
> and enviroments where each, or a blend with a particular ratio will
> work.
>
>

20 Jan 2008 - 10:39pm
Jim Leftwich
2004

Point taken, Mark. And perhaps "simplification/oversimplification"
wasn't the term I should've used, either. I think I was maybe
reaching for something more like "loaded terminology."

Putting words in the mouths of stereotypical proponents, etc..
Reducing the complex set of reasons why sometimes one (or a smaller
team's) vision is pursued or employed as "egocentric," (as
opposed, to perhaps the best interest of the product and the end
users), etc..

I also wish you could be in Savannah. I'm looking forward to
meeting lots of IxDA'ers and having many interesting discussions.

I suppose this topic and thread is as good as any to say (in the
context of roles), that I see another topic of debate coming:

And that is the whole issue of moving up in organizations and
evolving as a designer means that necessarily one must "move into
management."

There are some threads and discussions around this idea at Boxes and
Arrows, and I've discussed it in the past with Information
Architects.

I'm in a corporation, and a fast-growing one, and that and my other
corporate design experiences have not indicated that it's entirely
necessary to follow one model of evolution as one becomes more
experienced. Yes, design leadership roles definitely include more
strategic and higher-level issues, but that does not necessarily
preclude having a model where the chief design executive is not also
a kind of traditional studio master.

I advocate a studio model for corporate designers. I believe the
hierarchical model inherent in many, if not most, corporations is not
the only (nor necessarily the best) model for designers, creativity,
or innovation. The idea that designers gain experience, and at some
point *must* leave actually doing the design in order to rise in the
corporate structure, or effectively attend to management, strategic,
or leadership roles and duties, is in my opinion and experience,
another unproven assumption.

I suppose some of my own personal perspective on this comes from
being a generalist. My own work from early on always had a great
deal of strategy and higher-level architecture and business
associated with the production-level design work. And integrating
those in a seamless whole is a blend of skills that I only learned by
being mentored by older, more experienced master designers (who
themselves had never stopped designing). It's this side-by-side
Master-Protege model that I believe is missing from the majority of
corporate design efforts. Not that all corporate design models need
to be configured this way, but more the idea that such a model is
*not possible* (as has been implied in a number of threads I've read
on "ascending into management" elsewhere).

I believe that we're going to see a wide range of models of what it
means to evolve in one's design career in the coming years.

I just don't want young designers, particulary those that *love*
designing so much that they could never dream of not always doing it,
or at least being the lead (while also embracing and tackling much
higher-level design, vision, and leadership responsibilities). My
message is that you don't have to. There are alternative models.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=24799

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