I really don't see why there are so many people tweeting this kind of stuff. Why does everyone have to so tightly define what is and isn't a designer? just get off twitter and get back to designing. That said, lets dig deeper:
I agree with the response Kevin Crafts had: "I don’t go to a restaurant, tell them to leave cilantro off my order, and call myself a chef." But Jared responded with: "No, but by leaving the cilantro off your dish, you did design a different experience for your meal than the chef intended."
Thats like saying that commanding your web designer to make the background yellow, you are a designer. Yes, you are "making a different experience", but its a worse one. Thats why you hire a designer. If I write the copy for a site, and the entirety of it is gravely offensive... that influences the law side of the company. But I do not claim to be a lawyer.
He claims multiple times that "design is different than being, say, a chef" but its not. Designers are highly skilled professionals in their craft. So are chefs. Chefs may "design" their meals, but that is just your choice of words, it has zero comparison to graphic design, web design, art direction, etc.
So to break this all down... can we just stop? stop the political shite. If he wants to make a framework to educate non-designers on design, to solve the overall goal of a company... thats one thing. But telling people that everyone is a designer is just not correct. If I buy Charmin Ultra, I am just picking toilet paper, not "designing my bathroom experience"
Stefan Sagmeister mirrors my sentiments perfectly in this video: https://vimeo.com/98368484
I completely agree.
his idea also doesn't make sense from a historical perspective.
There used to be a time when there no such thing as a designer. By that I mean that the term basically didn't exist. Instead, (fine) artists, furniture makers, (what we would call) designers, pottery makers, etc. were all artisans. They were all equal.
It was only later that the idea of "industrial arts" (the modern day graphic design) slowly emerged and was later turned into a "designer."
The point is that a designer, unlike a chef or an engineer, wasn't a role which was firmly set. Design, like the Modernists idea of what constitutes an artist, was something which people associated themselves with based on a series of philosophies which considered the idea of what constitutes design or good design.
There are many different philosophies for what constitutes good design, however they are still philosophies. A chef can call oneself someone whom aims to create a "total experience" instead of someone that merely leads cooks, but in the end of the day that chef is most likely using the medium of food.
This is where it gets difficult with design, unlike a chef or other fields of work, there are no set of rules to operate in. The only requirement for a designer is to create a plan for some thing or the visuals which lead towards the creation of a product or thing. What the thing or product is could be anything.
And thus we have: UI design, graphic design, industrial design, architecture, fashion design, interior design, garden design, lighting design, and so on.
All of these fields, including the many I haven't mentioned, operate under different philosophies of how to design in their respective field. One may argue the idea that all of these fields "solve problems," however I'd doubt that illustrators, interior designers and fashion designers would use this framework towards working out their ideas regardless if they technically do.
What roles constitute as a designer versus a non-designer (e.g an engineering oriented industrial designer versus an engineering oriented inventor) are really just determined based on social and historic means. Any of the above "design" fields call themselves designers because they've always been called that way.
But if you start to label everyone designers because just because they create a plan, usually involving visuals, that leads to a thing or end product you'd basically make the term redundant. At that point you might as well change your job description to "human."
Agreed with your sentiments fully. and in the end, calling everyone a designer just becomes a micromanagement nightmare for the guy who is actually designing the interface/graphics/logo/whatever.
His tweet would be better as: "branding is not just design, branding is every aspect of your company. Law, PR, HR, it all speaks to who you are". Thats something I can get behind. But HR isn't a bunch of "Human relations experience designers"... thats just a pointless, and redundant term.
Exactly. There seems to be this notion that design is some sort of all mighty "ultimate" profession that's somehow placed above others, but at its most simplified form it's just the idea of using logic and good thinking in combination with making things and solving problems which is something many people do on a regular basis anyway. We just call some of those roles "designers" because of historic reasons.
If I buy Charmin Ultra, I am just picking toilet paper, not "designing my bathroom experience"
But you are.
You are designing a bathroom experience for guests and other members of your family. You do realize that people (myself included) will judge you based on the toilet paper you have in your bathroom, right? You may think it's petty but it happens. 1 ply tells people you are a cheap ass and it makes for a less than pleasurable butt wiping experience. And what if you didn't have toilet paper? What if you had a bidet? Would that not change the entire "bathroom experience"?
Design is solving problems. How you choose to solve the problem creates a user experience. That user experience can be viewed either positively or negatively in the eyes of others. In the case of the bathroom example, the problem is "the user needs to remove fecal matter from their rectum". There are a multitude of solutions to this problem and what you choose is representative of your own personal tastes, and beliefs. And what you choose may not be the most widely accepted or pleasurable user experience with people other than yourself.
So, the question all designers should continue to ask themselves is "what problem am I trying to solve and who are my users?" If you are designing for yourself, you are a terrible designer. (unless of course you are an independent artist and the client specifically came to you because they like your personal style. That is completely different...)
You are pretty fixated on the bathroom metaphor, and in all honesty it may not have been the right metaphor to use. So, my bad for that.
Skateboarding might be a better one. If my friend skateboards, and I tell him "hey! you should learn how to do a kickflip" and he does... am I a skateboarder? No. I might have "influenced his skateboarding experience" but the affect is negligible, and calling it that doesn't change anything.
My point is, I am not going to call myself a designer because I didn't buy 1 ply. I call myself a Web designer because I professionally design websites.
The question you ask at the bottom is an important one to ask yourself for every project, I fully agree. But I don't really see how calling a lawyer a designer has anything to do with that.
The greater point that OP of the tweet was trying to make might be a good one. Important even. But his phrasing doesn't make sense, and anyones explanation for why he is trying to do this is countered by a new tweet he makes.
as i mentioned in my original comment, he could make a framework for working with non-designers which has already been done, by the way. but instead he seems to be trying to make some deep point that just isn't working...
Can lawyers "design" experiences in the courtroom? sure. But why do we need to say its design or call them designers? being a "designer" is already hard to explain without adding more to the mix.
You can only be so detailed and meaningful in 140 characters or less. So take that into consideration when reading his tweet. I think people took his tweet too literal and completely missed the overarching point.
I agree with the general gist of his tweet. His phrasing and choice of words was poor, but he has a valid point. Designers, in general, need to be more inclusive, open-minded, and flexible. Basically, "leave your ego at the door" because at the end of the day, you are a slave to the user and your employer.
If you don't like that concept, then go be an independent freelancer and design your own work that makes you happy and hope that other people like it too. But when you show up to work everyday, you are supposed to be designing solutions to make your users and your employer happy. And guess what...YOU, the designer, are NOT the user. The designer is also not intimately familiar with the business goals of the stakeholders. So you would be wise to listen to suggestions and information from other people on your team because the designer doesn't know everything. (even though we all like to convince ourselves that we do.)
You would be surprised the things you might learn if you close your mouth and just listen to people. If you hate purple but your users love it....guess what....that website better be dipped in purple. It's not your job to tell people what you think is right. It's your job to listen to input and turn that feedback into tastefully executed solutions. How you manipulate everyone's feedback and craft it into a well-designed solution that meets your employer's and users' goals is what defines a "great designer".
The biggest problem I see with younger designers is that they think it's their way or the highway because "I KNOW BETTER THAN YOU". It's extremely off-putting and it makes working together on a team extremely difficult.
I agree with all of your points. But as he slowly elaborated on his original tweet, it became clear that the point he was trying to make was very literal.
So yes, designers need to have a reality check and stop being so pretentious in general (other peoples opinions are valid and sometimes more correct than your own) and no, its not our job to make every site the way we like it. We are designers because we make websites and branding based on who they are, not who we are. So, I agree with your points, but his follow up tweets didn't convey that message
Yah once I realized there was a follow-up tweet storm of like 14 additional tweets I slowly started to realize that he meant something completely different.
He started out strong! haha All downhill from there though....Not sure if I agree with where he is going with all this..
Picking toilet paper might contribute towards a bathroom experience, however it does not suddenly make you into a professional interior designer.
Besides, as I said above, if we use the word "design" to refer to every time someone "solves a problem" we'd just make the term redundant. The context in which people use the word "design" is a social construct.
if i had a dollar for every time this guy made a deep meaningful tweet about "what is a designer" that fell apart at a moment's scrutiny, i'd have like three dollars.
Here are some stray thoughts I have about this:
- Jared is trying to make the practice of design more inclusive. I think he wants to escape the tendency designers have to operate in fish bowls.
- When everyone on a team is a practitioner of design, the team wins.
- A key component to design is facilitation. How well can you get the right people in the right room, working on the right thing at the right time?
- If you agree that the definition of design is the rendering of intent, then this idea really focuses on the intent part. What outcome do we want? What problems do the organization and its customers/users have? How might we solve these problems? This work should involve a lot of people and their influence on the design makes them designers.
- Outcomes > team member ownership. When you talk about what really matters, it's what the team has accomplished rather than who did what on a project. If this is true, I wonder how this affects how people are evaluated (i.e, performance reviews, getting raises, etc)
- Skills > roles. What really matters on a team are the specific skills each member brings to the table rather than structure around who does what.
When everyone on a team is a practitioner of design, the team wins.
Design by committee always works out great.
You can have everyone on a team be a design practitioner and escape a "designed by committee" scenario.
Should influencers code?
Funny how it's always "Everyones a designer" and never "Everyones a developer"
Should designers design?
Can designers design?
Are we designing right now??!
What does DN think of this idea?
It honestly seems to me that most people are missing the point—that if someone influences what the design becomes, they are in effect designing it. That's not to say designers are important—in fact, he's saying the opposite. When an engineer tells you they've built something and new need your help "designing it", they were ultimately the designer for that project. Making design decisions independent of the designer on the team tends to weaken the end result. This is a defense of Design as a profession.
I think his argument is structured in a painfully obtuse way but there are 2 parts that I break down (this is just my opinion, I'm in no way an expert on this type of thinking) as pieces of what he's maybe trying to get at? Maybe?:
Organizations that silo design away from the input of other members of the org are doing it wrong. This happens. It's bad. It's often attributed to the hubris of the designers being bummed that a PM is trying to tell him what would "look best." I think we've probably all been there early in our careers.
We're too precious about titles, but there's a psychology to that. When you strip away the specific title of "Designer" from someone using that to their financial and career advantage you're damaging something they are attached to and that directly influences their lives. That can elicit a very strong reaction. This is true of what a "designer" even is as well. When everyone in our org is a designer we've democratized (what should be seen as) a trade and as a result, there's less value in it and that's fucking scary.
In the long term theres this thing competing that I'm curious about. We, as designers, have always wanted design to be democratized and spread so that more things are well-designed but the more that happens and the more people we give seats at the design (kiddie) table, the more this is going to happen and the more these questions will be raised (hopefully in a more coherent manner).
I dunno. I think his intentions are good, just kind of executed in a less than ideal way.
The problem with point one is that it assumes designer said no value based on their experience and intuition. These shouldn't be cast aside so quickly simply because there might have an opinion that may or may not work.
A good example for me is with photography. I HATE when someone wants a photo swapped out and suggests ideas without considering composition, contrast, subject matter, and a slew of other factors that will adversely affect the layout. You can't simply swap out a photo or color simply because someone doesn't like it without there being consequences. It's this experience and intuition that designer bring to the table that when cast aside makes us annoyed, not that someone may have an opinion. You want to discuss your opinions? Come prepared to have those opinions challenged and have an argument based on sound design principles.
Disagree. Here's a bad analogy: Its like a Kanye album... its a collaboration every time, but he is the artist. In a similar way, all input from others will be filtered through the "designer".
Jared's argument could apply to any job title.
Anyone who influences what the product becomes is the engineer. This includes designers, PMs, even corporate legal. All are the engineers.
Anyone who influences what the dish becomes is the chef. This includes the dishwasher, the kitchen manager, even the annoying vegan that requested it to be gluten free. All are the chefs.
Anyone who influences what the car becomes is the car mechanic. This includes the cleaning lady, the reception desk person, even the pigeon that accidentally pooped on the car hood. All are the car mechanics.
Yup, seems to work.
Anyone who influences your comment becomes the commenter.
Unfortunately, based on his follow up tweets he would say: "no, a car cleaner isn't a mechanic, but he is designing the car experience" he would call the person vacuuming a car, a designer.
We need to shed the image that we're artsy tits who put pretty colours to websites.
If I had my way, my personal way, every website I'd design would be yellow. I fucken love yellow.
But I'm a designer. So I pick a colour that conveys whatever it is we want to convey to the user.
More accurately still; our job is to first figure out what our clients are trying to do. Then find the target audience that matches that, unless there's a marketing department that already did that for us.
We pick the colour that fits the brand, product or service, and correctly communicates its values, purpose or intent with the audience.
WE DO NOT PUT TWO PRETTY COLOURS TOGETHER.
Now stop telling me you "don't like green", you "don't like italics" or you "don't like flat design". I don't care. I'm your designer, who's trying to help you sell something to your audience.
We need to shed the image that we're artsy tits who put pretty colours to websites.
I hear every UI designer say something like this but is that even the case? On one hand we seem to brush off the idea of aesthetics, but on the other hand we seem to be more than happy to visually communicate in such a way to just follow trends instead of exploring different methods.
Too often we design stuff that gets us paid, instead of designing what gets the best results.
Educating (and picking) your clients is an art in itself.
When a client disagrees with you, ask yourself if you did the wrong thing, or if you didn't sell the right thing properly.
I find, often, it's the second option.
If that is what you intended to say in your initial comment, I'll agree with you.
Been watching this conversation unfold at the start of the weekend. I still don't understand the problem Jared is trying to solve or what his hypothesis is. Why the focus on labeling everyone a designer? What does a title have to do with it?
Is it important to recognize how everyone influences the outcome of an experience? Absolutely. Can people learn to make better choices by learning more about design and how they can leverage it to make better choices? Of course.
Would I call myself an engineer just because I sit next my engineer and help him implement a design? Would I call myself a product manager just because I influence the outcome of how stories are written or prioritized? No. Because that would be arrogant of me and it serves no useful purpose.
How about we just focus on bettering each other via cross-functional pairing? Why is this entire conversation dominated by making everyone designers? Why aren't we talking about how we can all learn something from engineers and PM's and become more well rounded?
I still don't understand the problem Jared is trying to solve or what his hypothesis is.
I think the question he's thinking about is, "What makes companies successful?" His conclusion is that when teams collaborate with those in the company and customers, they end up with better designs and better outcomes. I think the design community agrees with that. Ok, so how do we enable that outcome? Maybe it starts by acknowledging that when nondesigners contribute to the outcome of a product, we should start calling them designers. The role of, what Jared called, "official designers" isn't to own the design, but to facilitate and make impactful contributions.
I voted therefore I am a government official
I should call that guy that broke my nose and tell him he's a plastic surgeon now