Why Designers Rule.

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I found this nice little list of reasons why designers rule over at Design Stamp. (Thanks, Gagan.) While the argument in and of itself is saddly not proven in the world of business (Walmart being the biggest retailer in the galaxy kind of disproves the notion to some extent), it's hard to argue with Gagan's points:

Read the latest headlines or examine the recent product evolutions around us and you will soon realise that all major developments have one driving force in common. Design. From gook-less mustard caps to renewable toothbrushes, the power of design is being used in unlikely places and creating competitive advantage in an increasingly crowded marketplace. Design has the power to change (even save) lives and create a more functional economy. Here are 10 reasons why designers rule…

1. We are curious. The best designers are those that bring knowledge to a project but gather perspective from the end-user. Designers are trained to know that they don’t know all the answers and the best solutions to problems lie in examining context and defining the target. To design for a better future, a designer must uncover how the people lead their lives today. Ask questions, uncover truths and dig to find out who they should be designing for.

2. We create brands. Don’t hire a designer who uses the words logos and brands interchangeably. Instead look for designers who think logos are only as important as lipstick on a beautiful woman. Creating a brand means adding true market value that transcends features or benefits. I paraphrase and borrow liberally from the Brand Gap but the idea is that imagine Coke without it’s brand. It would be worth half its current market value:

3. We create distinction in crowded marketplaces. Clever design and niche products have made Apple successful again. Good design has always been the cornerstone of what Apple has been known for. Everyone knows that the soon to be available iPhone has nothing amazingly new about it. But we also know that Apple will make access to the features and the shear visuals so appealing that the iPhone will make other phones look like Stone Age tablets. Apple understands and leverages the fact that design is the ultimate competitive edge.

4. Designers are excellent translators. Got business goals? Got technological constraints? Designers can uncover user goals and then find the sweet spot where business goals and user goals converge. Even better, they can ensure that technology can be leveraged to meet those goals. Designers help business dream big and beyond what exists today and also ground those dreams by presenting a set of very real, tangible user goals. Sure you want to build a flying pig but no one wants one! Good design means building products and services that are useful. Less wasted time, less bad products.

5. Design = Innovation = Design. When Business Week wanted to launch a section on design their research told them that their readers assumed that the section would be all about architecture and interior design. So they renamed that section to be called Innovation. A sign of the times we live in. Design walks around wearing a veil called Innovation. Whatever you call it, you are dead in the waters without it. Design not keeps businesses alive, it helps them float to the top and be seen as victorious over their competition.

6. Design saves lives. My Treo’s tiny buttons have caused me to have many a close-call car accidents (I know, I know, no multi-tasking while driving). That said good design has probably saved my life many a time. From my steering wheel car stereo controls to the 3 point safety belt that keeps me from kissing my windshield. ABS brakes that don’t require me to do anything different than just use a brake like I always would. Designers dare to think different and when they do; they reward us with products that work. While your badly designed website may not kill people, it may contribute to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) or just good ol’ web rage.

7. Designers are user advocates. If you ever have the pleasure to be in a feature discussion meeting, they start to sound like a religious debate. I would never…I always…My mother has said…My girlfriend swears she would never…People use whatever anecdotes they possibly can to prove their point of view and ‘win’ the debate. A ‘good’ designer would bring good research to the table. Research based on fact, research based on user goals to validate direction. Use your designer as your stand-in for the user you should be designing for, and trust that they are the voice of the people. That’s who they want to please. That’s who makes you money and keeps you in business.

8. Designers make things pretty. Human nature: “If it looks good, it must be good”. We are highly visual creatures who make snap judgments on the basis of how things appear in that moment. This is how we survive, hunt and gather and marry people who will make use beautiful babies to carry forth our civilization. Designers understand this and use this knowledge to make us products that fit in with our idea of beauty. Beauty is not skin deep, it is the knife’s edge.

9. A design process is a good process. You don’t develop a brand, you design a brand. You don’t develop a software application, you design a software application. Having a user experience focused design approach means that the entire production cycle should have design validation at key points throughout the entire process. This keeps the focus where it should be. On the paying customer.

10. Designers love constraints. Tell a designer that they have complete freedom to do what they want, there is no target market and there are no financial or technical constraints. They go crazy. They literally go nuts. They become artists creating for themselves. Designers are defined by constraints and embrace them with open arms. After all, to design for a fixed target, to design for a set of rules and goals is what defines design. It’s what we do.

So I propose to you, get designers to rule the world and we will be happier, waste less by building products and services that we actually want to buy and use well. Fire your local self-serving politician, hire a designer and we will live in closer harmony with the planet which we happen to inhabit.

Yep. You'll get no argument from me. Have a great Friday, everyone. :)

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