It’s a question I used to ask myself and other people ask me. Being a design student and trying to pursue a career in user experience design (among other things), it was important to me to document my process, a process that I have made up based of tailoring preexisting techniques and methodologies; methods and processes that I can now call my own. As a UX designer, research is a key part of my work. My project has the brief/challenge on one end and the final outcome and deliverables on the other hand, but what’s in the middle? What take me from point A to B? Are there other reasons why designers should write?
Point A & B
Designers would find it important and convenient to document their research and processes throughout their project.
This isn’t Interstellar. There are no wormholes. There are however an infinite number of ways to get from point A to point B. Don’t choose the fastest or the shortest, but choose what best suits you, your client and your project.
While your final product maybe impressive, a prospective client or employer would want to know whether you met the brief/challenge in the first place, and whether or not you did with with optimal resources and good time management. Also there isn’t just a point A and B.
Points C, D, E…
While point B is a destination, other points often lead off into dead ends and results that [you]r client wouldn’t be too happy about. More often than not, we tend to not go down this path as soon as we realize that these paths lead to nowhere. But in the process of actually going down just far enough into these paths, we learn things; Why something won’t work? What else could work? Is the price right? Will it get down in time? Eureka!
Charting courses to show your prospective clients or employers what you’ve learnt by learning about possible dead ends in your early design phases will let them understand your thinking process and your will to go the extra-mile to best meet a given brief. Speaking of briefs….
There’s always a brief
More often than not we forget to include the motive of our project in our portfolios. Tell people why you did something, why you put a black background instead of white, why you decided to remove a century old design decision while redesigning; How and why you did what you did is easier when the starting point is clear.
Documentation, Documentation, Documentation
Documentation maybe the best argument for a designer to write. Writing documentation help you in future projects (and even current ones). Documentation helps record your progress and sometimes creates a snapshot of what you were doing at a particular time. Further, documentation doesn’t just help you and your team, but budding designers because
Designers, like scientists, make up a community
Scientists take documentation seriously, follow strict rules and procedures while publishing and maintaining scientific works. Whether a study took months, years or decades, all the knowledge is then published to the world, available for everyone to read, study, learn and use for their own work. So why shouldn’t designers do that too? Design, like science, has changed a lot in the last 100 years, whether that be because of various design movements, the advent of better tool sets or the work of bold and brave designers that stepped outside the box, design evolved, design advanced. So just like scientists, we too have an obligation to help, grow and nurture our community of designers.
If scientists discover a vaccine that would help prevent a disease in children, designers would make the needle seem friendly and cute.
Why I started writing
As a student, time is (at most times) the enemy. Between all the academic work, personal projects and actual office work, there is so little time to properly put up a project on Behance or curate a top-notch portfolio. I found that writing was the quickest way I could explain to any potential client or employer, why I did something and how I did it. What drove me further was this article by UX Planet and this article by Asad Ali Junaid on Medium, where they better explained why designers should actually write, not just on an online platform, but in general.
Full disclaimer this is an article about why I personally think that designers should write. This article does not amount to any scientific research or criticisms.
UX, Research, Design Research, Community, Documentation, Prospective Clients and Employers