About the discussions we are not having. (Brainstorming)

over 2 years ago from , Digital Product Designer

I am curious about your point of view on design topics that go deeper than the tip of the iceberg. What are discussions we should be having as a community but ended up getting shadowed by superficial conversations like hating on dribbble unimportant nonsense (guilty of this one), hating on sweatshirts, hating on latest iOS icons, hating on framer making a video about gradients... you got my point...

I mentor some design students and I would like to trigger discussions about deeper topics with them so I can prepare them for the "real world".

What are the topics you as a designer miss having more points of view and healthy discussions? Would love to get your insights here so I can collect interesting topics to help my students better face reality :)

From the back of my head, I can think about these topics to start:

  • the challenge of integrating design to a truly agile process
  • how to be a design evangelist in an engineering or marketing driven company
  • how to succeed as an introvert designer
  • comparing different approaches to design management


  • Adam Karpisz, over 2 years ago

    Great idea. Just ideas from the top of my head, based on observing other young designers and myself:

    • "You are the specialist" - being a designer is not that different from being an engineer or a car mechanic, yet where people tend not to argue with the design of an airplane before their flight, we hear "can we make it red? I like red" more often than we should. A designer needs to be the specialist in his field, his choices aren't (or shouldn't) be based on blind guesses, and more designers need to know how to play that role.

    • "How to know when to stop" - there's a saying: 80% on time is better than 100% late. Most of us know the feeling - a design is never "finished". There is always something to polish, some other path to explore. But there needs to be a moment when the design is ready to be submitted, even though it's not perfect. That moment needs to be a conscious choice, not "because the deadline was up".

    • "No man is an island"- you can design a logo by yourself. A whole corporate identity even. But at one point, designs become bigger than just one person. We need to swallow our ego and know how to include other people in the process.

    • "Be smart, not pretty" - function over form.

    • "The Juggler"- how to keep track of your work when you've taken on too much (I do it all the time ;) ).

    If anything else comes to mind, I'll be back here :)

    7 points
    • Renato Castelo, over 2 years ago

      True! I lived a lot the "You are the specialist" problem. It was the main motivation behind diving deep into psychology and related areas.

      If more people contribute with this question, I will compile all the topics so we can find a way to exchange tips and tricks on them.

      0 points
    • Account deleted over 2 years ago

      "You are the specialist" - being a designer is not that different from being an engineer or a car mechanic, yet where people tend not to argue with the design of an airplane before their flight, we hear "can we make it red? I like red" more often than we should. A designer needs to be the specialist in his field, his choices aren't (or shouldn't) be based on blind guesses, and more designers need to know how to play that role.

      Be careful with this. A new designer is rarely - if ever - ever a specialist. Frankly, this is where I see many young designers fall down. They come out of school with an attitude that they know design, but aren't willing to pay their dues, apprentice or listen to important outside influences (ie: data, results, requirements, etc). They feel they simply know better.

      In the example you gave of a mechanic (or electricians, plumbers, etc), there is ALWAYS a pretty lengthy apprenticeship period where they follow, learn and grow for a few years. This used to be pretty standard in the old days, but has gotten a little lost recently.

      EDIT: The best way a young designer can get others to treat him/her like a specialist is to back up as many decisions as possible with experience or research. Being able to soundly back up design decisions is one of the best ways to earn the respect of co-workers AND get your ideas through much easier. I know someone who used to say"There are designers that might make a button yellow because it reminded them of that time they rolled around in a field of flowers and it made them feel so happy - and there are designers that make the button yellow because they can tell you it should result in a 10% lift in engagement from users based on testing and other trends you're seeing in the industry".

      6 points
      • Adam Karpisz, over 2 years ago

        Absolutely, great call out, it's important to underline this.

        Before "You are the specialist" there should be a "How to be a specialist" talk... although in a perfect world, that discussion would be a constant in all years of studying design... And this is also something I see as a problem: it's very easy to inflate an ego nowadays. Observe trends on Dribbble/Behance, follow them, get a lot of "likes", feel like an accomplished designer. All of that in less than a month. It can really fill a young mind with a false sense of accomplishment which then might block him from the most important aspect of being a designer - learning, be it from others or from personal experience.

        1 point
  • Scott ThomasScott Thomas, over 2 years ago

    In the real world 1. Dealing with conflicting stakeholders and internal politics. 2. The challenge of building products you don't believe in. 3. When design ideas and devs abilities collide. 4. The challenge of comprising.

    For new designers in art school 1. The challenge between your Ideas and projects/clients limitations. 2. Thinking and designing quickly

    5 points
  • Account deleted over 2 years ago

    The problem is that an online forum is a really bad place to have these kind of discussions - simply because it's too hard to have a helpful, dynamic and real-time conversation with the students themselves.

    My advice would be to host a panel of different designers - one from an agency, one from a startup, one from an internal corporate team and maybe one successful freelancer.

    They can each talk about how they got started, their challenges and maybe one tidbit of advice they wish they could tell their younger self. Open the floor to the students and allow them to ask whatever they want... and then maybe have time at the end where the panelists would have one-one-one time with anyone.

    The other benefit of this is that you're jump-starting the students network, giving them the opportunity to get the contact info of local people that might be able to help them later on as well.

    4 points
    • Renato Castelo, over 2 years ago

      Sound like a good idea Benjamin. My goal with this post is rather to collect topics that are important but kind of neglected online so I make sure to at least cover them in my sessions :)

      0 points
  • Mattan IngramMattan Ingram, over 2 years ago

    I don't think any of these topics or those mentioned in the comments are under discussed in design communities. If anything they are discussed ad-nauseum.

    That doesn't mean you shouldn't point your students towards those existing discussions and encourage them to have their own, but healthy discussions about them exist, particularly if you can shrug off the occasional over-aggressive or over-sensitive design personality.

    In fact I think it's the conversations you mentioned which "overshadow" these "healthier" discussions which have been underserved. People got so wound up about hurting feelings and whether critics should create that they missed an actually interesting conversation about how self-congratulatory the design community has become and whether it's beneficial or not to avoid any form of negativity to such an extreme degree.

    1 point
    • Renato Castelo, over 2 years ago

      I can see your point. I would slightly rephrase my statement to say that these topics are not under discussed, but rather happen below the surface for many new starters or people who live in places where there isn't a strong design community and their main channel to talk with peers is the web.

      Agree with your last paragraph. Probably this self-congratulatory behavior is also what keeps us from having deeper discussions. Feedback is something I try to approach in depth with them. Mostly to counteract this exact behavior. Thanks for sharing your point of view.

      1 point
  • Darian RosebrookDarian Rosebrook, over 2 years ago

    How to present work with confidence, finding better clients, marketing your skills better as a designer...

    Like you, I also mentor a bunch of designers in my own community and have a newsletter where I try to teach these topics. I'm glad I'm not alone out there tired of the fluff.

    0 points
  • Richard BruskowskiRichard Bruskowski, over 2 years ago

    Design & ethics maybe: How to design products that actually serve (all) its users instead of products making use of human habits and weaknesses for someone's profit. How to convince stakeholders that this might be more beneficial in the long run. A discussion about the manipulative power of design and where to draw the line.

    0 points