I think in addition to your responsibilities making something work, all designers have a responsibility to culture because we're the gatekeepers in a weird way. When you think of a culture, or a society you think of their architecture, their language, their art, etc and design has a place in all that. I also don't necessarily mean this in a nationalistic sense but I mean our collective society in our generation. But in the bigger picture, design largely reflects on the society we have—as it has in all societies that came before us.
And so we're not only making products, we are contributing to a culture. We need products that work but we have a responsibility to do our part in making life not only more simpler but more enjoyable and interesting.
In this, being an original is a part of moving a culture forward, one person at a time. It's not relying on the past but acknowledging it and carving our own place in the present and shaping the future.
People might not care but we should care. The moment we all choose give up will be a loss for culture in general. I mean this. Especially when networks and applications are becoming a more integrated part of our life.
It's really sad to browse DN sometimes and seeing such an overemphasis in "the client", "making stuff work." Those are important but I doubt that's why a lot of us got started in design in the first place and it takes out the soul in a lot of the work. We shouldn't have to reject that.
Designers tend to feel the need to justify the existence of their profession, especially in the context of capitalism— and so there's been this push to emphasize that it's about problem solving, but neglecting the intangible, beautiful, and yes, artistic parts of it is just as devaluing. Thus it's also sad when designers keep getting in a circlejerk and saying it isn't an art. The difference between art and design are more of syntax and language and labels than structural, but the effect we have on people can be just the same as art and so we should keep that in mind. There has to be room for a conversation that's inclusive to a broader scope of how we make work not only for humans but for the human spirit. It's also definitely not science like this article claims to be. The metrics are completely different. Let's be real. It's insulting to both designers and scientists.
I've been designing for 13 years now, and when someone recites the talking points of design not being art or it's all about the client, I definitely take it as a sign of a lack of maturity in the profession, and a lack of nuance and experience. Anyone who's been in the game for a long time knows it's not black and white and while there should be space to deliver there is more than enough space to delight.
It's the age start-ups, where becoming a designer is as accessible and easy as it's ever been, and in the age of Medium where it's too easy to express a thought and have it spread, it's really depressing to witness the rise shoulder-patting articles that basically say "It's okay to lower your standards because people don't care." There's something really alarming and shameful to me and I feel strongly about this. I won't spend a minute down this road of thought. It's completely condescending.
Being realistic is one thing, curbing expectations is healthy, prioritizing making good and sincere work over being original is also reasonable, but this article is one of many that honestly just exist to make people who don't give a shit feel okay. Let's try to fucking crush it every time we open up our laptops.
“Amidst all the attention given to the sciences as to how they can lead to the cure of all diseases and daily problems of mankind, I believe that the biggest breakthrough will be the realization that the arts, which are considered "useless," will be recognized as the whole reason why we ever try to live longer or live more prosperously. The arts are the science of enjoying life.” ― John Maeda
thank you Erik. We need more Designers like you who mentor and lift us newbies up to a higher standard.
I care. But at the same time I know users probably don't. So like so many other things, it just boils down to a question of priorities.
"Once upon a time, every website looked new and amazing. Designers pushed the limits of what could be accomplished in the browsers we had."
I don't recall such a time.
"Users don’t care."
I would say being original (to a sane extent) does affect users. I understand most users say they could care less about design, but in running live tests on designs, the ones I put much more effort into generally resulted in compliments and even a few smiles. I would say that users care about good original design a lot, but it is more of a subconscious thing.
I think you're right. Users do care. It's partly subconscious, but I also think most of them lack the vocabulary to express why they like a design, even in their heads. They think, "Wow, that looks great," and some part of their brain fires in excitement because they've never seen anything like that before. Just because they might not be able to express that feeling in words doesn't mean they don't care, though.
Exactly. In fact, before getting into design, I would get the same "this is great" feeling, without knowing exactly why. I didnt know about kerning, or color theory, etc.
I genuinely hate this type of thinking. There are a few good points but it misses the larger picture entirely. Once you start breaking this shit down into logic and reasoning, you lose what makes designing (or any field where you are creating something - even TPS reports) truly amazing. And you lose what makes you an amazing person who creates amazing things.
You crave to create to the best of your ability - beyond the best of your ability. You should never (and never want to) make excuses based on statements like "the user doesn't care". You should never want to create something that is mediocre or shit or anything less than the best possible piece you can. You should push yourself to do it better every single day. Whether you choose to push yourself to be more original, use new technologies, make the user experience the best it can be based on user testing, or really nail that ie8 support - that is up to you.
You are paid to create and you are lucky to have the opportunity to create. We can bitch about clients and ie8 and ignorance and poor feedback all we want. We can realize that 99% of the users aren't going to notice that amazing detail that took 12 hours to get right. But that's all irrelevant. You should be creating for you, holding yourself to your own standards and the standards of people far superior to you. You shouldn't hold yourself to the manager who prefers MS Word Art over your pixel perfect brochure.
And no - this doesn't mean you get to do whatever you want. But at least start there. Get the project. Go into it thinking you are going to own this and it's going to be better than everything you've ever created. Truly desire to create the best. Part of that creation involves working with others, working with clients, overcoming obstacles, making sacrifices due to X and Y and Z. Your original vision may be lost - a little bit or a lot. But you still have the ability to create the best piece you can. It may not be the ideal color scheme or the perfect layout that you started with. But that's okay. It's part of the creation. If the client fucks with your colors, then focus on creating the best possible graphics or code or whatever. If the client changes every little bit, then focus on learning from this experience. Do a better job at explaining your process, or educating your client, or communicating. Do something - anything - better than you did last time.
Don't ever fall into thinking it doesn't matter. Don't ever make excuses for not delivering the best possible piece. Don't deliver shit ever.
Create something amazing. And remember you're a million times luckier than the guy standing at a bench, slapping little components onto other little components 1000 times a day / 6 days a week that eventually become your keyboard, or mouse, or laptop that you get to create with. Take advantage of that.
Great article. I think designing for mobile and page speed over those mobile networks has definitely effected how we design, since more eyes are on those screens. The independent projects or companies with leaders that value design seem to be some glimmer of hope in the vast landscape of sameness. With the cyclical nature on things, hopefully originality will be prevalent once again, but until then it is fun to see what creative people are doing within these mobile confines.
Weird how there's so much negative response for this but, Cap Watkin's "Boring Designer" blog post got overwhelming praise.
I know that post and this one aren't exactly the same but I feel like they were treading the same waters.
Originality matters. My personal 2 cents (:
– Creative fatigue affects users. If everything looked the same, cut-through would be less.
– Designs (mainly product design) should begin at the root of the problem/challenge — not the execution.
– 'Craft' enriches experiences.
My short answer to the title of the article is: «Yes, it does matter». But I can follow the thoughts of the author. And I think he has to change the way he works for clients to get happy again. This kind of thinking can be the result of the ugly race of money.
So the author is arguing for utilitarianism is he? Utilitarianism based on a misguided notion that users and clients "don't care about design".
If we all took the authors advice, every website would look the same, and then all of a sudden you would have some very upset clients and users.
No, most users aren't conscious of what is or isn't "good design", but they don't have to be. A product that is designed correctly will just feel intuitively "right" to the user.
Stop calling people users! There are people who don’t use your product, but they are looking for inspiration, solutions, etc. Do you even design for these cases?