In a recent interview with TIME magazine, Apple’s legendary head of design Jony Ive was quoted as saying this, when it comes to designing a new product:
Objects and their manufacture are inseparable. You understand a product if you understand how it’s made. I want to know what things are for, how they work, what they can or should be made of, before I even begin to think what they should look like.
Exactly. This statement wholly captures my design attitude as I insert myself into a start-up context as the main, and—for now—solo designer. For me to be a successful designer impacting the product (a web-based SaaS application for IT Admins) in a significant way, I can’t simply jump to visual styles to beautify—as tempting as it may be! I’ve got to fundamentally understand the product purpose (why it exists and for whom it provides value), the product mechanics (how it all works, as a Big Data analytics tool for IT Datacenters) which means diving into some fairly demanding technical concepts around datacenter operations, and the product manufacture—indeed, how it all gets coded up! What is the actual code construction process in terms of tools used and frameworks applied, for the front-end (like angular.js or CSS3) and back-end (leveraging AWS servers). The more complete my understanding of the product, then the more effective and influential I can be as a designer shaping a bonafide experience that respects the product’s essence. And then…I can amplify the product to the next level via beautiful and rigorous design. Designing a software experience implies knowing how it’s constructed, to have maximum impact.