Some personal design lessons/axioms

If someone asked me to extemporaneously itemize some personally developed axioms (or “pearls of wisdom”) for practicing interaction design, here’s what I would say:

1. Always question and verify your assumptions, dependencies, and expectations about the project, problem, and client.

2. The three duties of a designer: advocate (for the user), educate (the client about design’s value), and facilitate (among PM/Engin/QA/Doc, etc. to ensure an agreed, consistent design decisions)…and of course create!

3. Useful, usable, desirable –> People, context, content, behavior –> goals/tasks/values (keep these in mind when possible)

4. All design is political because of scope, schedule, budget, resources and competing priorities/goals; deal with it, can’t win all the time.

5. Design functions in a crazy chaotic web of influences: marketing, engineering, QA, tech support, doc. Design’s just one piece, but not the only piece. (corollary to above)

6. Asking the right questions early can be more important than coming up with a clever solution. Conversations tend to invite questions, rather than declarations.

7. Same for identifying the right problem to solve…you don’t want to spend 6 weeks solving the wrong problem!

8. Always take user feedback with several grains of salt. And remember: No one asked for the iPhone or Prius or Wii before they were invented! A designer is an informed visionary.

9. Do less better. Remember this when PM/Engin try to cram features upon features into your product design.

12. There’s always a version 2. Plan for a version 3.

13. Beware of edge cases! 80/20 rule, probability trumps possibility.

14. Alot of design is just perceptual tricks to suggest simplicity, ease of use, etc. Perception is reality.

15. Lighten up, it’s just design. We’re not nuclear engineers or brain surgeons :-)

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