On our last day of the Citrix Product Design Summit this fall we were treated to a lively conversation with Citrix CEO and design champion Mark Templeton who spoke with typical passion and humanity. (He is a wonderfully gregarious and approachable CEO, truly a gem! Never hesitant to say Hi or ask about your family). Mark rhapsodized about design culture, strategic goals, his heroes, even his shoes!

But of particular note was Mark’s brief statement: “If I were to substitute one word for ‘design’ it would be ‘care’…you have to care about the details and why you are doing it.” It made me reflect further. Indeed, when you consider it, “caring” is really at the heart of striving for good design. Thoughtful consideration, due diligence, judicious forethought and anticipation, simplifying and removing unnecessary features, shaping the purpose, all in the service of helping someone (a human being, not just a mere “user”, that is) achieve their goals with satisfaction and joy. You’ve got to care about that. Can’t be grimly apathetic. The minute you stop caring is when you stop designing.

Care is also the path towards empathy, to be fully deeply embracing and living the pains and pleasures of someone, to create a positive experience overall, beginning-to-end. Care is about the macro level of shaping the humanistic journey of discovery and reward…and the micro level details of craftsmanship, pixel by pixel, word by word, click by click. Caring is what makes design a deeply human activity, directed towards improving people’s lives, creating sustainable businesses, and inventing technologies of noble value. You gotta care in order to design well.