Design Responsibly

Kevin Richardson, Ph.D. / Monday, February 05, 2018

Clients and users tend to appreciate the technical aspects of a design; the way the parts fit, the information architecture, the layout, the way it looks, how it meshes with expectations, the way it allows tasks to be accomplished. If they’re really attentive, they just might appreciate the way the design itself disappears, becoming part of the environment, unnoticed, supporting a users’ actions but never becoming more important than the action.

Philosophy and Vocation

I find it helpful to think about design as a philosophy rather than as a product, and a calling rather than a job title. Design is expressive. It moves us. Done well, design enables people to more completely become who they want to be. From kitchen utensils to complex scientific software, good design allows for the unhindered expression of human intention.

Our Responsibility

As custodians of design, we have a duty to positively affect the lives of others. I’m serious when I suggest that we should even have our own oath, “Do Only Good”, similar to the Hippocratic Oath, "Do No Harm”. After 27 years in this profession, I’ve learned that doing good isn’t always easy. It takes work, perseverance, and dedication to our craft. Even the best of intentions can be whittled away by compromises and self-interest. Constrained by the overlapping sets of user, business, and technical requirements, we may not always be able to design “outside the box,” but we need to always be thinking around the edges.

Beyond Deliverables

Our role in society, however, extends beyond our deliverables. Good work and satisfied clients are not enough. Our work has consequences. To borrow Alan Cooper's phrase, our goal should be to become “good ancestors.” We need to consider how our work impacts the broader, techno-social ecosystem. Will we be leaving the world better than we found it? This isn’t easy, and we certainly can’t know for sure. But striving to become a good ancestor should be a prerequisite for any designer who wants to be worthy of their title.

Design at Infragistics

Here at Infragistics Consulting, we pride ourselves on delivering thoughtful and useful design. Getting the job done isn't the same as getting the job done well and we sweat the small stuff because it matters. Let us show you how we can help by contacting us at services@infragistics.com.

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