Source: Wikipedia

The Right Way to Design™

The progression of a digital designer’s toolkit has finally been resurrected, after a long slumber. But, as our tools, methods, and workflows are subject to rapid evolution, it’s easy to lose sight of basic principles. Let’s remind ourselves: What is most important?

We have set out to build something great, once again.

Through talking to people, we’re convinced that we’ve defined a real problem that needs to be solved, to benefit the lives of individuals commonly referred to as users. Another piece of software in the world is the right answer.

I’m all geared up. My eight pixel grid system is set with Sketch’s nudge settings to go with it. My responsive type scale is beautiful and harmonious, flexible and divisible by eight (of course).

I have a seamlessly working pipeline that can populate my layouts with real live data straight from an API. I’m ready to categorize my components according to our atomic design system that takes its naming cues from Greek gods and monsters, making it easily understandable and relatable to all parties involved. And, let’s not forget our custom object oriented CSS framework, waiting to speed up our building process drastically.

The true value in anything we design only manifests when other people use it

I consider myself to be an above average designer. I have a solid generalist skill set, I’m curious, and I can fit my ego in my messenger bag made of sustainable materials. But, like everyone else, I have my flaws.

I’m very process and technique orientated, obsessive about details, borderline autistic. I can easily spend a day perfecting the hierarchical depth of shadows in my card based user interface.

Then, I suddenly wake up to the nagging question of “Who am I designing this for again?” That cog in the machine working six floors above me, whose everyday life I need to improve to make my client’s organization great again?

Through years of experience and countless projects, I’ve come to know my faults and limitations. And, if there’s one technique, one thing that keeps me in check, it’s the power of human agency: the people around me, my team. I’ve yet to work on a product or service sitting next to the user, but there’s one thing in common with the user, every teammate, my better half, and your mom: they’re all human.

The true value in anything we design only manifests when other people use it, interact with it, and make it a part of their everyday lives. That’s why I make sure that from day one, I keep turning my work over to as many humans as possible, regardless of who they are.

The more they color it, the less my work will be about me. Sounds hippyish as hell, but that’s the only thing that matters. It’s the only way. The Right Way to Design [sic].

This article was originally published on the Reaktor blog. Reaktor is a company of great humans and exceptional talent that I’m lucky to design and build digital products with.

Thanks to Niclas Kristiansson for help with this piece.