Everyone’s a design strategist these days—and that’s a problem.
Beginning in the late 2000s, companies decided that design thinking was the next Six Sigma, and executives rushed to the promised land of creativity for the business masses. In the aftermath, businesses lost sight of the benefits of real design strategy, preferring instead to accept design thinking’s perceived limitations—which are outlined in Bruce Nussbaum’s “Design Thinking Is a Failed Experiment. So What’s Next?” In doing so, many people, including those in our own UX industry, seem to have lost the true meaning of design strategy. I’m on a quest to find it.
Over the years, I have heard countless descriptions of design strategy. It’s branding or graphic design or good packaging. It’s applying user-centered design. It’s “whatever Apple is doing.” It’s using some combination of a good / better / best or razor / razor blade model. All of these definitions are wrong—or at least not holistic enough to define the field. I’ve come to realize that there are actually two types of design strategy, which is probably contributing to the confusion. While each type can exist independently within a company, they work more effectively as two parts of a concerted whole. Read More
I am a principled designer. I also like to think I am a principled man, but today, I’m going to talk not about my moral guideposts, but about the principles I use in mobile design.
We all have many tips and tricks, styles, favorite research learnings, lists of heuristics to keep in mind, examples we try to follow, and favorite apps and Web sites. These are all tactical approaches to design. Using design principles means adding a layer of structure and meaning to your design tactics to help you to make better design decisions. Read More
Maybe you’re excitedly reviewing research questions for your upcoming study on internal communication and messaging, and your manager asks how your work will impact the product team’s larger communication strategy. While you’d thought about the larger communication strategy at the beginning of the project, its importance has slowly waned as you focused on creating your interview guide. Or worse, you’re presenting your research findings on improving the usability of a tool in wide use, and your main stakeholder asks how this will improve awareness and adoption of the tool overall. Somehow, that initial goal faded during the research planning discussions.
These sorts of things can happen all too easily. Sometimes we throw ourselves into planning and executing our user research, getting caught up in the details, until someone barges in and asks a simple question: Why? Why are we doing this? What is the overall goal of the research? Read More