Thursday , July 29 2021

On our obsession with design methods – and how to avoid it

A design method is simply a series of steps that you can refer to, so you do not have to re-invent the wheel every time you try to solve a similar design problem.

The design methods are fantastic.

They help to define a basic way to do something.

They help to create a shared vocabulary between a team or an organization.

They help to make design accessible to more people (hi, Design Thinking), which also means that other sectors will begin to understand the value that design can bring to the equation.

They also help make our profession more standardized, more organized, more quantifiable and, consequently, it seems more serious than traditional knowledge you like to think (wait, design is just art, right?).

In the last two decades, companies like IDEO, frog, IBM, Cooper have done a great job in standardizing and disseminating some design methods, and eventually turned them into a deck of cards.

IDEO method cards: several ways to inspire design – about $ 1 each

The method cards can be great. They can help designers not get stuck when they try to solve a particular problem. They can also be a powerful tool for evangelizing non-designers about how methodical and scientific design can be – which is particularly interesting when it comes to influencing business people who make decisions about how much to invest in Design.

On the other hand, many companies patent design methods as a way to charge higher for their services. Selling books Position yourself as a leader or innovator in certain practices. Or just because they can load a lot of money to teach you how to use their tools as designers.

This is not necessarily relative. It's part of the business.

What is worrying is when designers go beyond the line and start obsessing design methods; when they rely on design methods for everything, and begin to believe that there is no other way to solve design problems than the one specified in one of these method cards.

Here are some tips to make sure you do not pass this line:

Do not assume that every designer knows all the design methods.

"Wait, do not you know what a double diamond is?" "Wait, have you ever run a Design Sprint ?! OH MY GOD."

This is absolutely arrogant. You think you seem smart, because you're showing how much you are "aware" of all these different methodologies, but in reality you lack the mark on a fundamental principle of being a designer: put yourself in another men's shoes, be empathetic and create accessibility in everything you do.

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