MVP issues

The fundamental challenge we are up against is that doing the right thing well is generally more expensive and time-consuming than doing the least you can get away with and figuring out how to defend it. For example, the Lean methodology and the Minimum Viable Product technique are supposed to help reduce waste and increase the timely flow of useful feedback. In practice, they are used as cover for rushing to a less thoughtful solution without considering the context or the long-term implications.

Designers have found themselves having to fit their work into these popular methods without an opportunity to critique their place in the surrounding system. And critiquing the elements of a system is a fundamental tool of design.

The concept (value centered design) I’d like us all to agree on is that we need to design products and services that make their users better off, make money, and don’t fuck up society or the planet.

Erika Hall: Thinking in Triplicate

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Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context

“Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context”, said the Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen. “A chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan.”

When designing for the web, it’s tempting to think in terms of interactions like swiping, tapping, clicking, scrolling, dragging and dropping. But very few people wake up in the morning looking forward to a day of scrolling and tapping. They’re more likely to think in terms of reading, writing, sharing, buying and selling. Web designers need to see past the surface‐level actions to find the more meaningful verbs beneath.

In their book Designing With Progressive Enhancement, the Filament Group describe a technique they call “the x‐ray perspective”:

Taking an x‐ray perspective means looking “through” the complex widgets and visual styles of a design, identifying the core content and functional pieces that make up the page, and finding a simple HTML equivalent for each that will work universally.

Jeremy Keith: Resilient Web Design

Material honesty

Using TABLEs for layout is materially dishonest. The TABLE element is intended for marking up the structure of tabular data. The end result of using TABLEs, FONT elements, and spacer GIFs is a façade. At first glance everything looks fine, but it won’t stand up to scrutiny. As soon as such a website is stress‐tested by actual usage across a range of browsers, the façade crumbles.

Using CSS for presentation is materially honest—that’s the intended use of CSS. It also allows HTML to be materially honest. Instead of trying to fulfil two roles—structure and presentation—HTML can return to fulfilling its true purpose, marking up the meaning of content.

[About mobile first/responsive design:]

This content‐out way of thinking is fundamentally different to the canvas‐in approach that dates all the way back to the Book of Kells. It asks web designers to give up the illusion of control and create a materially‐honest discipline for the World Wide Web.

From Jeremy Keith: Resilient Web Design

Design critique

Criticism passes judgement — Critique poses questions
Criticism finds fault — Critique uncovers opportunity
Criticism is personal — Critique is objective
Criticism is vague — Critique is concrete
Criticism tears down — Critique builds up
Criticism is ego-centric — Critique is altruistic
Criticism is adversarial — Critique is cooperative
Criticism belittles the designer — Critique improves the design

From: Judy Reeves

See also Jared Spool’s article

41 shades of blue

The great Douglas Bowman leaves Google:

Yes, it’s true that a team at Google couldn’t decide between two blues, so they’re testing 41 shades between each blue to see which one performs better. I had a recent debate over whether a border should be 3, 4 or 5 pixels wide, and was asked to prove my case. I can’t operate in an environment like that. I’ve grown tired of debating such miniscule design decisions. There are more exciting design problems in this world to tackle.

DouglasBowman from Zeldman.com

Ove Arup: Design as a continuum

[About Ove Arup] “Design was at the top of his agenda, and he defined it as an all-embracing concept – a continuum of analysis, synthesis, production, construction and evaluation; an iterative activity where process and product are indivisible. He understood and voiced the reality that the nineteenth century concept of the singular designer/builder had been – and was continuing to be – eroded by the explosion in knowledge and the consequent inevitability of ever-increasing specialisation. He spoke endlessly about the need to integrate all these skills into a unified whole which satisfied the Vitruvian trio of ‘Commodity’, ‘Firmness’, and ‘Delight’.”

Lack Zunz in ‘We like what you did’, V&A Magazine, Issue No 40, Summer 2016, p.48

Design Thinking

Design Thinking is a people centered way of solving difficult problems. It follows a collaborative, team based, cross-disciplinary process. It uses a toolkit of methods and can be applied by anyone from the most seasoned corporate designers and executives to school children.

Design Thinking is an approach that seeks practical and innovative solutions to problems. It can be used to develop products, services, experiences, and strategy. It is an approach that allows designers to go beyond focusing on improving the appearance of things to provide a framework for solving complex problems. Design Thinking combines empathy for people and their context with tools to discover insight. It drives business value. (…) Design Thinkers observe users and their physical environments, interact with them with prototypes, and feed the outcomes of their experiences back into the design.

(…)

Design Thinking can be applied throughout the design process:

  1. Define intent
  2. Know context
  3. Know users
  4. Frame insights
  5. Explore concepts
  6. Make plans
  7. Deliver offering

From: Service Design: 250 essential methods by Robert A Curedale