We’ve all been there, thought of really good ideas for a business- but sometimes, the form isn’t always the best function for a product or service. It is important that the ideas we think of can be executed successfully too.
“In the detailed design phase, I’m not very good. I’m good at designing and setting up the project’s initial phase. But when we get to the point where we need to iterate on smaller product updates, I’m not great.”
Well, you can’t do your job well.
Design is about making an idea possible, not an idea. In reality, the cheapest thing you possess is your idea. “Ideas on their own are not worth that much. Even the brightest idea is just a starting point, not a magical thing. A significantly compromised but executed design in mental isolation is infinitely more valuable than an abstract notion.” (Thought Merchants)
The other day I was reading A List Apart’s great article about the illusion of web design control. The article discusses how we, as designers, attempt to scrutinise every detail of an interaction— from pixel-perfect designs to beautiful animations to every tiny fraction of a second of user experience— but the harsh reality is that we control way less than we think.
“The high fidelity of the design tools of today creates the illusion that in the real world our mockups are feasible.”
The high fidelity of the design tools of today creates the illusion that in the real world our mockups are feasible. It is relatively easy to design a static board or even a prototype of a Principle. Usually you illustrate an ideal flow. For multiple scenarios, you are not accommodating. You’re not worried about performance. You are not designing older devices for edge cases, less tech-savvy users.
“The moment a design begins to be built is the line between good and great designers.”
Good designers may come up with ideas, but they can’t handle JIRA tickets from developers on an hourly basis, asking for scenario solutions that the designer didn’t even think about first. In these situations, great designers thrive, creating a collaborative environment in which developers feel as much as they own the solution as they own the problem.
Good designers will then come up with quick fixes and throw the ball over the fence to the developers for those secondary use cases. Great designers will take every request as an opportunity for the overall design system to be reassessed, improved and bulletproof.
Good designers will finish the project and say it’s a bummer that it looks so different from what was designed to implement it. It’s not about “looking like the mockups” that great designers understand; it’s about looking and feeling simple, useful, smooth and relevant.
When I hear people say they’re not strong when it comes to executing, iterating, adapting, and making it work, I question how strong they really are from a designer.
That’s not to say it’s easier to concept than to execute. Not in any way. Two different tasks; two separate brain parts. But if you can only come up with high-level concepts, you don’t provide an actual user experience. A dribbble shot, a portfolio mockup, a piece of art are delivered.