Designers don’t think?

Chatting to a recruiter recently I was shocked to hear him say, ‘The problem is we’re interviewing a lot of designers at the moment who don’t think’. I was pretty dumbfounded, as I’ve spent my entire working life believing that is exactly what designers did. However, it did get me thinking more about the way designers in technology work, the way things have changed over the last ten or so years, and the problems that they face.

When I started in the industry, designers did everything: design, user experience, information architecture and wireframing, HTML and often project managing the whole caboodle. Although it was fun for a while, as the industry developed it was really too much for one person to take on and run effectively; it called for different skills and it was pretty impossible for one person to have all of these abilities to a similarly high level.

But as different project methodologies have come and gone, the division of tasks into separate, discrete entities has often meant that the barriers between them have grown and people stop talking to each other. It’s a trend that Leisa Reichelt in her talk on Agile UCD describes as the ‘throwing it over the wall’ technique, which rarely makes for inspiring design. Designers themselves, who have to learn to interact better, don’t help the situation.

Given the recent Chinwag discussions on the perceived skills shortage in the digital industry, I’d say that there’s not a lack of digital designers. But there is a lack of good design candidates who can think, understand technology, focus on business objectives, and who can also communicate effectively.




Design thinking

Quick liked this lecture on the topic, which re-spins 'design' as a way to approach problems rather than a craft. From Timothy Brown CEO of IDEO