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The Dying Art Of Design

Progress is good, but we need to make sure that we’re progressing in the right direction. Our fundamental skills and the craft of design have started to take a back seat. Using the right tools and techniques is certainly an important part of design. But do our tools and resources make us better designers?

Taking a close look at the current state of design, we can see that sometimes modern design tools and processes do more harm than good. Please note that in preparing this article, we presented basic questions to designers, from beginner to expert, in an unscientific poll. Close to 600 designers participated.

Draw Comics The Marvel Way Link

As a teenager, I loved comic books: the art, the stories, the super-powers I wished I had. I remember the point when I went from reading and enjoying comics to wanting to create them. I became obsessed with being able to draw exactly like the great comic book artists of that time, people like Jim Lee1. Taking books like How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way2 out of the library was like having the artists themselves sitting next to me, showing me the way. Many designers can relate to this, because today through blogs and Twitter we can follow those whom we consider to be the best designers in the world, learning what they read and where they go and maybe even getting a glimpse of how they create the work we so admire.

Superman and Batman
Batman and Superman3, drawn by Jim Lee.

This “how to” approach is reflected in the design resources we find today. Soon after a certain style or effect becomes popular, tutorials and other tools to create it become available. But the element that was missing from my “how to” books is the same element that is missing from these tutorials, lists, and galleries: “why.” Why did they choose that typeface? Why did they opt for a minimalist style? Why did they use that particular technique to spotlight the product? We can go through the motions of creating a design, but we really need to understand why it works. As we’ll see, certain historical developments offer additional insight.

Imitation And The Cargo Cults Link

What is original? More to the point, is anything original? Defining originality in design is one of those complex gray areas. This subject has sparked ongoing debate about what is inspired and what is blatantly copied. Last year, Jeff Veen4 gave a talk that showed how the cargo cults5 of the World War II era relate to this discussion about design today.

During the war, islands in the Pacific region were key tactical locations in the battle between the US and Japan. The two countries began to air-drop food, weapons, medicine and other supplies there. Some of these supplies were shared with the indigenous people who lived on the islands. When the war ended and the air bases were abandoned, the cargo stopped dropping.

Cults sprouted up that enacted rituals imitating what they saw the soldiers do, believing this would bless them with supplies. They even constructed air strips, bamboo control towers and straw planes, all in the hope of bringing back the airplanes with their bountiful cargo. The reason this copying didn’t work, Jeff Veen points out, is that they missed all of the underlying principles.

Straw Plane
Straw plane6 made by a cargo cult of the South Pacific.

We can see modern-day examples of this by comparing the iPhone to the subsequent copycat phones that failed by only mimicking what their designers thought made the iPhone a success. Simple imitation completely misses the point of what made the original great. Some phone makers, including HTC, wound up being sued by Apple for patent infringement7. This goes back to how we use the design tools and learning resources available to us. There needs to be an element of intention and a deeper understanding first.

The Modern Designer Link

The Designer’s Diet Link

The diet of a typical designer is low in in-depth content and high in inspirational lists, tutorials and freebies. A review of blogs and our poll of design professionals shows a clear trend in the informational diet of creatives. They consume a lot but bypass a deeper understanding of design. In-depth articles and case studies are the least-read articles. Over 75% of the articles that designers read are either design tutorials or inspirational lists.

Designer Diet

Designers feel most comfortable starting their latest project by sifting through inspirational lists and working in their favorite computer application (Photoshop was used by our poll respondents more than all other software combined). And what about those freebies? Designers devour them for their projects. In fact, they said they use freebies more than client-provided, stock or original assets. To be fair, this is likely because these types of articles and tools are highly visible online, but this is still a bit daunting to hear. This content would not exist without such a big audience.

Tutorials Should Foster Thinking Link

On nearly every design blog right now, you can find some sort of design tutorial. They range from useful techniques to borderline useless “how-to”s. The problem isn’t just the tutorials themselves or their perceived usefulness; it’s how they are positioned relative to design. These tutorials are not “design” tutorials; they are, more accurately, tool tutorials.

This may seem a negligible difference to some. The problem with the former label is that it implies, falsely, that you are learning to design. If someone follows certain steps in creating an effect, that is learning how to use a particular software application. “Design” has many definitions, and every designer will give you a different one. But I think most designers can agree on what design is not. And it is not a 10-step recipe for creating a “Super-Awesome Laser Beam Effect.”

Bad Tutorials

Online tutorials focus so much on the tools that many designers are learning to use the software well but are losing fundamental design skills. In his article “Don’t Be a Tooler218,” Von Glitscha talks about how the craft of design is being watered down and skills like drawing are being forgotten. Many designers have traded in the pencil for the pen tool. He says, “Too many designers look for the easy way out when it comes to a creative process, and that is problematic to their creative growth. Instead of bolstering a core skill like drawing, they pursue a path of least creative resistance, and the end result is a Tooler.”

The focus on trendy effects encourages cargo cult-like ritual in which designers mimic a technique without understanding what makes it suitable for a project. A Photoshop filter or gallery feature becomes the driver and turns a design into a meaningless visual layer. This reflect poorly on the industry, showing designers as being proficient with design applications and resources but not design itself.

Ingredients of Good Design Link

Good design is the result of great thinking, as well as great ingredients. Typical ingredients are compelling photography and strong content. The job of the designer, as a sort of master chef, is to measure, blend and cook these elements into a successful project. Where do these ingredients come from, and just how good are they? Some elements come from clients, some are original work, and others come from stock vendors like iStockPhoto9 and Veer10. But the majority of ingredients come as freebies. Free WordPress themes abound. One can download thousands of textures, graphics and social icons to use in their next project.

Burger Chef customer service promotional photo, 1960s (via bayswater9711).

Using cheap or free design elements is like a five-star chef using canned sauces and pre-made dishes in the spirit of a fast-food restaurant. Creating from scratch seems to be a thing of the past. Photo shoots and original illustration are now usually done only by agencies that work for big clients with deep pockets.

Certainly, factors outside of the designer’s control will affect these decisions, such as budget. But the price of using only cheap or free assets is that designs will increasingly look like replicas of each other. In addition, clients will come to expect assets for free or next to nothing, so budgets will not be there for future projects.

There are even risks with using paid assets such as stock photography. A photo could be used by another company for another purpose12, thus diluting your client’s brand. Granted, not every client can afford a certain caliber work. Time and money are often a luxury. Many designers openly use freebie art and pre-designed WordPress themes for clients13 to save time and money. The question is not whether this is right or wrong. This is up to the designer to disclose to the client. The question is is this making the craft of design more efficient, or is it killing it?

Harmful to Your Design Health Link

Dependance on resources such as freebies and tutorials is turning our design industry into an assembly line that churns out the same exact piece, with perhaps slight variation. Design is not a commodity, but the more that designers use freebies and the like, the more it will become one. The Web is just a large copy machine14, as Kevin Kelley puts it. Design seems to be going down this road, too. Even our information resources—the design blogs themselves—are clones of each other.

“When copies are super abundant, they become worthless. When copies are super abundant, stuff which can’t be copied becomes scarce and valuable.”
Kevin Kelly15 (Image: Ibeamee16)

No wonder many clients see the designer’s role as being to create eye candy or a beautiful “skin.” With this view prevalent, designers will never be considered people who can solve problems for businesses and their customers and who can effectively communicate ideas. We will simply be a mindless pair of hands that knows how to apply some trendy colors and glossy effects to make things look nice. A technique with no purpose makes a design irrelevant. If design becomes irrelevant, then at some point we may be, too.

Return to the Art of Design Link

The solution is not to never read this type of content or to use these assets, but it needs to be measured. Designers need to push themselves with the fundamental craft of design.

Inspiration Requires Perspiration Link

Remember when special effects in movies were real? When the stunt man actually jumped onto a moving car? When characters ran around a luscious green jungle in South America, not in front of a flat green screen in a warehouse in Los Angeles? Computer technology has become integral to the creative workflow. It definitely has benefits; but the problem is that the “should we” has crept into “we can, so we will.” Many shallow stories are built around amazing effects, as opposed to engaging stories being supported by technology. In design, the “story” is communication and problem-solving. We need good reasons to use the techniques and graphics that we use in our designs.

I’ve seen posts in forums from designers looking for great paper textures or certain free graphics. What about finding a real piece of paper, scanning it and creating your own texture? Or sketching a graphic element and importing it to the computer to create your own unique piece of art? Sometimes we need to get our hands dirty. In the end, it will give us a new appreciation of the work, and we will be proud of the result. It doesn’t always work out because of time or budget constraints, but make sure the decision is based on those and not laziness.

Graphic Design Books
(Image by jamiecoull)

Reading a quick article online or scanning a few nice websites is easy. More difficult is digging deep in a book or finding the time and money to attend a conference. Plenty of books and offline resources have great information on design. A little research is all it takes to find plenty of libraries and universities with good graphic design programs in all parts of the world. Great design takes more effort than a few clicks.

Build Skills With Purpose Link

Practicing and honing skills are vital to growth. Knowing the ins and outs of our software is an important part of the job, too. Thinking conceptually and devising solutions should come first, though. If a designer finds that he needs to brush up on a tool or technique, then a tutorial is the ideal way to learn. Our tools and resources are a means to good design, not the end. Identify the purpose first. The purpose might relate to the website’s user experience or a message in a product advertisement. After you’ve determined the purpose, find the best tool or technique to support it.

From the article “The Role of Sketching in the Design Process2217.”

Designers are more comfortable with their favorite design application than with good old pen and paper. Sketching is about getting ideas out and finding the best solution on which to iterate. Some sketchbooks of designers are so beautiful that they are almost intimidating. But great drawing skill doesn’t make the thinking or result any better. And some of that skill is gained with practice. The point, though, is to focus not on how great the sketch looks but on how sound the concept or user experience is. On the computer, we focus too much on getting the lines and colors just right, which ends up distracting us. Buy a pencil and paper: it’s cheaper than any application you’ll find.

Train Your Design Brain Link

Boxing is one of the most brutal sports. Learning techniques and conditioning the body is critical to being able to compete. But even boxing has more to it than the aggressive physical displays that the audience sees from the seats. Some of the greatest boxers, like Muhammad Ali, recognized this balance; they were great not just at knocking out opponents but at out-thinking them, too. Mike Rooney18, a former boxing trainer of Mike Tyson, says, “Boxing is 80% mental and 20% physical. Anyone can get in physical shape.”

Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali versus Sonny Liston (1965), by Neil Leifer.

Design is similar in that anyone can imitate or find free assets that make for pleasing visuals. To be great designers, we need to improve our mental game. We have many ways to get our minds in shape to be the best tool in our arsenal. When we get in the ring with the client, we need to be ready to take some punches. We also need to be trained and armed with the fundamentals so that we can help clients understand that we’re not just sharing our feelings or loose opinions but that we have sound reasons behind our design choices.

If you don’t understand or can’t explain fundamental design principles19 such as negative (or white) space, balance and contrast, how do you expect to consult with a client on the best approach for a project? The website design industry is great, and many designers are self-taught. They don’t need certification to ply their trade, and they aren’t required to continue their education, as in other professions. But this is also a disadvantage, because anyone without training or understanding can call himself a designer. A deeper understanding or a degree in design (or a related field) can make all the difference.

Great Design Is History Link

Paul Rand
(Image: Paul Rand)

Design began like any craft: people practiced it, studied it and challenged themselves. While modern design tools and resources certainly make our many tasks easier, they don’t always improve our work. Tools and shortcuts are temporary. Great design is timeless. The best tool available is sitting in our heads; we just need to upgrade it once in a while. Training and experience leads to solid solutions and happy clients who demand our expertise.

We determine the type of information made available to us. Every click (and tweet) can be a vote for a better and smarter design community. Please choose wisely.

Resources Link


Footnotes Link

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Francisco Inchauste is an interaction designer at Universal Mind, helping clients create great Web experiences. He regularly contributes to Web design blogs, magazines, and books. He recently served as Editor of Smashing Magazine’s UX Design section. You can connect with him on Twitter, or read more on his blog.

  1. 1

    Benschi Aadalen

    April 8, 2010 3:11 am

    great post =) very intresting!

  2. 3

    i agree with you Francisco! I am in a Media-Design school and have over 4 years Photoshop experience (I am 18). First I only did tutorials, but what i learned in the last 2 years in school (in design theory) is just great and changed my view of design. Many people think that just doing tutorials will make them creative and good at design but that´s wrong. For me, design startet after I no longer needed tutorials.

    This summer I probably start my apprenticeship in web-design/programming.
    I just love web and graphic design!

    Greetings from Germany =)

    • 4

      Doing a course wont make you “creative” either.

      However you can say “I did XYZ so I am ‘qualified’ now”. Much like you are.

      • 5

        Of course no course makes you creative, but we learn how to collect ideas for a project first (on good old pen and paper) and later what rules of composite there are. Something like the golden ratio and such.

        And like Paul Arden wrote (in “It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be”) : “You don´t have to be creative to be creative”. The point is, if you know what you´re doing and why you are putting something at a specific position shows if someone knows what he´s doing or if he´s doing it because “it looks cool”.

        And of course you can say that your qualified. Everybody can. I´m not saying that i´m good because i did a course. I don´t say im good at all :> but I am good for my age!

      • 6

        Martin Risseeuw

        April 9, 2010 12:31 am

        I agree it doesnt make you creative.
        But you can learn how you can put your creative ideas on paper.

      • 7

        I’m sorry mate, but I honestly believe that people can learn to be creative. It’s a skill set one can learn.

        People just need to work to learn it, that is all.

      • 8

        Josh's alter ego

        April 11, 2010 4:08 am

        Well Josh, I’m certain you missed the point of his post entirely. Reading comprehension FTW. Maybe there’s a course in somewhere in that. However, according to your philosophy, that would only allow you to say that you’re qualified in reading comprehension, with no actual reading comprehension ability.

  3. 9

    Sven den Otter

    April 8, 2010 3:15 am

    very nice article! thanks

  4. 10

    Lars Händler

    April 8, 2010 3:24 am

    I think what you describe is a general problem and not only design related. As you said we see similarities in the movie industries. I’m a coder and in programming I see the same tendencies. A growing part of programmers just takes what they need from lists, forums or whereever google points them. The program has to work somehow and most of the time noone cares if this google code collection will survive the next update. We live in a faced paced time and time is money. I don’t like solutions that are not well thought. I also don’t like standard design themes and uninspirated design work. But I think we have to live with it and will see more of it.

  5. 11

    Andy Walpole

    April 8, 2010 3:27 am

    “Over 75% of the articles that designers read are either design tutorials or inspirational lists.”

    If I see another jQuery plugin list I’m going to smash my monitor up… grrr…

    • 12

      Andy Walpole

      April 8, 2010 5:50 am

      He is expressing an opinion – but it’s not polemic

      Ultimately what Francisco is saying is turn your PC off and take a walk outside and find inspiration in the world around you.

      A good designer one that has more of a holistic approach to their craft and not just relies on a few sources.

      opps… should have been a reply to Ben below

      • 13

        i find this comment to be the conclusion of this aricle. I recently went on a weekend trip to budapest and everhwhere i looked it seemed like the town was firstly schetched by a designer then buildings done and finnaly colors were added. I rememer thinking: i should really apply this into my designs…

    • 14

      “Over 75% of the articles that designers read are either design tutorials or inspirational lists.”

      This here is the problem!
      Like a dog chasing it’s own tail, getting nowhere fast, following the 1st thing that grabs the attention.
      personally, I don’t read design tutorials or supposed inspirational lists that much.
      I’ll flick thru FFFFound for 15mins every couple of days, or I’ll take photos of anything interesting I see on my iphone when out walking for referencing later, either road markings , signs, interesting ephemera, colours etc…. Or I’ll read a music mag, or a novel or watch a movie on the tube for 25mins or so, I might read an interesting quote or line in a novel that will get the old grey matter spiralling off.
      Cycling is also good for idea creation, I find I often see interesting things while whizzing past, or the mind will go back to a previous question I couldn’t resolve and throw up a multitude of alternatives that I wouldn’t think of while sat in front of a monitor.
      While I think you can learn design to some extent, it is a language after all, knowing the rules will help, Tutorials can be helpful, but personally I think it’s a bit like peering behind the curtain to see that the great wizard is just a little man twiddling the knobs of a machine, the magic is lost…………….

  6. 15

    some time i feel “We will simply be a mindless pair of hands that knows how to apply some trendy colors and glossy effects to make things look nice. A technique with no purpose makes a design irrelevant.”

    very good article after loooooooooooooooooong time on SM :)

  7. 16

    i know the situation of dying design in e-learning. Where PowerPoint is listed as one of the most popular tool for building interactions which fitting this article as good as possible.

    • 17

      Sascha Brossmann

      April 8, 2010 5:29 pm

      Sorry, but I think you’re misguided here. While I personally don’t like using PPT, and it takes quite some effort to produce something of solid visual quality (especially concerning type), it is still a viable tool for doing (i. e. prototyping) *interaction* design. Besides, this is not the point, quite in contrary: tools employed ≠ design delivered. It’s still the designer who is responsible for the results, not the tools.

  8. 18

    Andrea Austoni

    April 8, 2010 3:47 am

    As a regular author of tutorials I definitely agree with this article. I always try to explain the why of things but ultimately tutorials are for learning the tools not the craft. For that there is culture.
    I’d like to see blogs entirely devoted to the culture behind design.

  9. 19

    Bill Thompson

    April 8, 2010 3:47 am

    What a lame article

  10. 28

    Great article, has given me a lot to think about!

  11. 29

    Wow, what a terrible article, this should have an *The following post is entirely the opinion of the author, and tries to come across as fact, please don’t be fooled* warning message at the top.

    • 30

      What is it that you don’t agree with? It’s not a bad thing that you may disagree, not bad at all. Disagreements are healthy as they help everyone gain perspective. Yet your response adds nothing to the discussion.

      I’m curious to hear why the article stung you so.

      • 31

        Firstly, the iphone fanboy comment related to HTC pissed me right off, it implies that HTC have in any way copied apple, which they haven’t. The Sense UI was around before iphone OS. This comment alone shows the authors clear lack of knowledge. Im not saying lacking knowledge on smart phones makes him less of a person, but the fact he decided to include such an uneducated line in the article shows he clearly has no desire to ensure he only writes statements he can back up, and prove to be knowledgeable about. If he’s this willing to be this inaccurate here, what’s to say the entire article isn’t riddled with them.

        The article actually implies that “good design cant be taught” which is a statement I actually agree with, however then totally contradicts itsself with the line “A deeper understanding or a degree in design (or a related field) can make all the difference.” Design related degree’s are pointless, not worth the paper there written on. I should know, I have one.

        My main frustration is the idea that this guy, who the hell is he? why should we read his words like they are some form of fact? What gives this dude the right to tell us what we are or are not doing correctly, and what or what isn’t the “right way”. This is an opinion piece, something which I have no problem with, but on a site that mixes inspiration, trend showcases etc. with real industry insight and solid techniques should make more of an effort to alert users to the fact there reading a totally fabricated opinion piece, that isn’t anywhere near as balanced or well researched enough to be published on anything but the internet.

        • 32

          “Design related degree’s are pointless, not worth the paper there written on. I should know, I have one.”

          Hi Ben,

          It’s so sad to hear from someone who has a degree in design but feels frustrated about having one. I guess you missed school a lot to actually appreciate it.

          The main point of the article is simply learning the basics before diving into the world of design. Proper education is essential if not helpful to make you better as a designer. Same thing goes with other profession. Right?

          • 33

            The article isn’t all too bad, but he totally lost me with the iphone fanboi comment and cargo cult comparision. What about Apple doing the same and stealing GUI metaphors from PARC/Xerox and selling them as own innovations, or Braun’s form and function in each and every Apple product. Left is 1960ies Braun, right is Apple 50 yrs later:

            The will always be the elite in every field of arts, culture etc. It’s been like that since the beginning of civilization. Not everyone is going to be like Dieter Rams or Paul Rand. Just look at this whole page including circle-jerk comments, it’s what this post is actually about.

            There’s a shitload of good design on the web anyways, many aspire to be good because it comes from the feeling of competition. The rest, well, they’ll either continue to suck or try to find their true profession.

          • 34

            Avery are you serious? Some of the greatest artist’s of all time never had formal education. Does that mean that they were bad artists?

          • 35

            I am so thankful for my schooling. I could have gotten by with out it, but I feel like my education challenged me in ways that I couldn’t have challenged myself, and taught me things in four years that would have taken me a decade to learn on my own. This is coming from someone who is still in school and is about to pull his third all-nighter this week as soon as I finish this comment and is very frustrated with his current situation and workload.

            Some great artists haven’t had any education… but they are few and far between when compared with the vast number of artists without education that none of us will ever hear about (and frankly a lot of those “greats” I personally don’t consider so great). Most of the greats have had some form of training (Picasso, Dalí, Duchamp–as some examples).

            Great design and craft can’t be taught, but learning more about it will greatly assist those who pursue it.

          • 36

            Branden Silva

            April 8, 2010 11:01 pm

            I think people are quick to forget that it doesn’t take a degree to be smart and educated in your field. Albert Einstein is one person people often use as an example, but many successful businessmen today dropped out of college and have made a big impact on the world. I think my degree had a few good tidbits in there but it also trained me to be standard and not exceptional. I don’t consider myself exceptional yet, but I’m working on it. The point is you can’t always learn how to be creative with the best design principles and rules. The people who were creative were the ones whom people mimicked; after that, enough people were inspired to create the rules that most of what design has formulated today.

            The truth is nothing really is yours and we all copy. I don’t care if you sat there and painted on a white canvas in Photoshop all day long and came up with a masterpiece, your ideas, your thoughts, they all come from other places, cultures, and experiences. When you paint a picture of a plant, your inspiration is that of nature. We are all copiers and mimickers of nature in the truest sense. Do you honestly think you could design in Photoshop without the hundreds of designers and developers who worked on it? Heck you can take it as far back as the creation of language. You could not even think about doing anything without a language because you would be an empty sponge. So when you say great design cannot be taught, I would kindly disagree. Nature has been teaching us for ages and the only way you are really going to be more creative than others, is if you master your tools and cut yourself out of the main stream fads and do something that less people are doing; while opening yourself up to the creative juices that flow all around you.

            I’ve seen some creative art work, and although some of it I thought to myself, how the hell is this art? But then I realized it’s more creatively artistic because it invokes me to think beyond what I see in every day life and takes me out of my comfort zone. It’s a road less traveled you could say, but again, it will always be a copy of what was previously existing because it was derived from that persons experiences and thoughts; which are connected to the whole.

        • 37

          An opinion can’t be fabricated.

        • 38

          @Ben #19
          I think you are missing the point of this article. the author doesn’t even imply that design can’t be taught. (actually he says quite the opposite)

          the point is that just because you know how to build something, doesn’t mean you should. Just because one person built a poster a certain way does not mean you should.

          I thought the Cargo Cult example was brilliant. I read all sorts of Photoshop tutorials all the time. they teach how to use the tool. knowing my tool alone does not inherently give me good design skills.

          i may know all there is to know about how to use a drill, but that will not help me build a suspension bridge. for that i would need to understand the goals of the bridge, materials available, laws of physics and most importantly the way my materials react with and affect each other. My drill will help me get the job done but i need to under stand why i am putting that beam there. sure i could make a pretty bridge but it may not get the job done.

          Plain and simple, yes the tools are important and they make the lives of Designers easier. But they are not as important as an understanding of why and how things work together to effectively and efficiently do the job. why do certain colors work well together and others do not. why does this color cause this emotional response. what are the affects of the golden ratio? how can those affects be applied creatively and not robotic.

          that’s all he was saying. so getting all uppity because he apparently made a “fanboy” comment against the thing your all “fanboy” about is just petty and proves his point most effectively.

          just a side note, i find it hilarious that you hold a degree and yet cannot speak complete or understandable sentences. that may or may not be the real reason your degree is useless.

        • 39

          Jonathan Gold

          April 9, 2010 1:49 pm

          “Design related degree’s are pointless, not worth the paper there written on. I should know, I have one.”

          Would you mind telling us what your degree entailed?

          My degree is the best thing that I could have done for my career; just being in a creative environment for 40 hours/week talking about really cutting-edge design is something that you can’t get from any listicle.

          Perhaps if your course was a ‘make a poster’ degree you would be wasting your time though.

          • 40

            Not all courses are created equal – on mine no-one discussed design at all.
            They turned up with their work for the Crit and then went off to the pub.

        • 41


    • 42

      I suppose you’re missing something very important:

      The article is not targeting noobs!!!

      Now go pick a good listicle (don’t got too far, SM has plenty) and leave the conversation to the the intellectually mature, will ya?

  12. 43

    Dean Peters

    April 8, 2010 4:08 am

    I think some of the frustration expressed here comes out of the fact that we’re all just figuring out that truly effective User Experience is a collaboration between graphic design, human factors, usability standards and analytics feedback.

    Its until we realize that we’re all going to have to team up and collaborate in these disciplines that we’re going to produce some stellar user experiences.

    Until then, we’re going to have the cats versus dogs versus hamsters debates and/or laments on why UX needs more of ingredient B over C.

  13. 44

    Mostly good points raised that I agree with. The glut of ‘designers’ who do nothing but surf trends and aim to make things look ‘cool’ without actually looking at the why’s and wherefore’s is amazing.

    Have to pick you up on your HTC comment though. Maybe you should do as you say and look into the underlying details of this story – HTC was creating touch screen tech long before Apple and did not copy them. There’s a stronger case for saying it was the other way round!

  14. 45

    Caesar Tjalbo

    April 8, 2010 4:20 am

    There’s simply too much design, too many designers and too much design being applied. The world doesn’t need another chair, to pick the most obvious example.

    It’s an issue that’s not exclusive to design either; the average quality of ‘content’ for example is also very low because of the overabundance of content being created. It’s all about signal to noise.

    • 46

      Agustin Amenabar

      April 8, 2010 7:59 pm

      Oh, but the world DOES still need design, a lot in many many fields. (I agree with you about the chairs)

      • 47

        Tom Dickinson

        April 9, 2010 7:56 am

        I also agree with the chair thing, and the lamp, or espresso machine type stuff. I really think it depends on where you live and what you’re exposed to though. I live in central London, so in the big city the amount of media, advertising and design I’m exposed to is huge, both good and bad.

        I recently had to go to Florida for work and I was blown over at how BAD everything I saw was design wise. My hotel looked like it was in a mid nineties timewarp and everything on the tv and all the advertising was so dated and weak. I know that sounds like a comment about US media versus UK, but I’d like to stress it’s not, since most stuff in the UK is US anyway, I think it’s just the regional work.

        My point is: when you go to a place where there feels like a design vacuum, you re-realise the importance of design to communication, environment and the quality of human lifestyle.

        Good article.

  15. 48

    :) one of the best article on sm. congrats

  16. 49

    Where’s the forum?! I posted important questions and now it has been removed. If the date of closure isn’t stuck to then at least reannounce the forum closure date.

  17. 50

    Yeah… what’s with the completely irrelevant iphone fanboy hating on HTC part? Pandering to your audience much? Sorry Finch, you lost my vote there.

  18. 51

    i can’t even believe SM has the audacity to speak ill of canned design. Pot, meet kettle

  19. 52

    Good article, but the section that mentions Marvel Comics is bugging me, mostly because Batman and Superman are both DC Comics. Maybe switch it out with a shot of Spider-Man and some X-Men?

  20. 54

    This is a great article!

    I feel the same way.

    What Caesar said about content is completely right. Too much unnecessary copy written to cater to the Search Engines, and very little actually communicating the message.


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