Disposability in design: feature not a bug

Building upon the previous post’s point about the need to “show the ugly” in design, not simply jumping to and showcasing your gorgeous Sketch mockups via templates and plug-ins…There’s another point about the value of disposability that’s worth mentioning briefly.

To be disposable in the design process is essential to the overall nature of design as a progressively iterative practice of moving from existing (meh) to preferred (yay!) with improvements upon the human condition or activity. This refers to quick pen sketches, drafty wireframes, hacked together prototypes, and even quick personas or experimental designs to see what feedback comes back. Each example speaks to how to be adaptive and improves with the tools and materials at hand, in order to create something that a) speaks to Product priorities for delivery to market and b) supports user goals and attitudes for actual usage.

Disposability is vital to reducing the cost of iterations, too, depending on how it’s built and shared. Via paper or quick smartphone photos stitched together, they afford rapidly facilitative discussions on the intent and outcomes, to ensure some kind of baseline direction with productive aims.

Disposability also ensures folks don’t fall in love with a design solution prematurely, by nature of the the rendering style (pen & paper) or the medium of the output (paper that’s torn and marked up), to ensure crucial conversations happen around the artifact itself, in service of product-driven strategies and ambitions.

That facility of easily and quickly throwing away a design keeps the team nimble, always thinking how to improve, and trying out crazy ideas. It encourages teams to be bold — after all, it’s only paper and pen or cardboard or whatever. So, yes… aim for the crazy North Star NOW and let’s discuss and get customer feedback, rather than holding things back out of fear and anxiety — which are the chief killers of innovation, and of memorable designs that enable customers to enjoy your brand, your product, your service within their lives.

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