My Design Philosophy
When I built the design team at Artium, I focused on being principle-driven, not process-driven. Here’s why: each project, problem, and team are unique. Each person’s insight and experience are, too. Following principles instead of a rigorous process lets us honor that uniqueness to deliver truly wonderful results. Not only that, we can move quickly and with intention to deliver great software. You can read how it looks in practice, too.
1. Design is careful
- Design is like woodworking. To get the best from a piece of wood, you need to understand its properties: its knots, grain direction, and how far it will bend before it breaks. It will tell you what it wants to be If you listen.
- Consider the edge cases and unintended harm a product may create when making it, lest it end up in a dystopian Black Mirror episode.
- The richest insights come from spending quality time with the problem, isolated from distractions.
- Prize and prioritize deep, focused work time.
2. Design happens in short, repeatable cycles
- Set strong, smart defaults but do not be beholden to any framework. Adapt the process to fit the need.
- Do not spend unnecessary time on preparation, ave a ruthless bias toward action and start strong.
- Prioritize delivering small bits of information quickly rather than one big thing slowly.
- It’s more valuable to have something working than something perfect.
3. Design is mindful
- Maintain a beginner's mind and actively suspend assumptions. In this way, it is possible to be fully present and unbiased when trying to understand a problem.
- Value gentleness and intuition over rigor and process.
- Stay objective…mostly. Data and goals are important, but are incomplete without intuition.
- Practice compassionate detachment, which allows one to advocate for what's right and then let the client make the final call.
4. Design represents the users
- Designers are the voice of the users and help our stakeholders map their needs to users’ expectations.
- Validate ideas constantly with users and the business.
- Designers owe clients more than their labor—they also owe clients their counsel. Do not shy away from hard conversations on the implications of a decision.
5. Design is collaborative
- Strongly prefer tools that encourage collaboration (Figma, Miro, etc.).
- Work as a team with other disciplines, Design does not rule everything.
- Pair up with each other, even (and especially) across disciplines.
- Feedback is a gift. Welcome criticism and differing viewpoints.