Every designer brings a unique approach to the industry. The final output is a cumulation of values and experiences of that designer. To understand how the artifact came to be, one must look at how the designer approaches their craft. Here are my core beliefs about design.
Empathy above all
Empathy is the ability to have an understanding of the realities of other people — to see the world through their eyes, feel what they feel and experience things as they do.
As designers, we practice empathy to gain a deeper understanding of the user’s emotions and needs. Empathy is typically the first step in the design process. We train to become empathic observers of our users, however, it should also extend to the team we’re working with. Empathy should go both ways. Everyone has something to bring to the table.
Design connects the vision to a reality. It binds a group of individuals with diverse backgrounds to transform an idea to a product. Without extending empathy, a designer will not be able to harness the full potential of the group.
In a society that revolves around constant interactions, being able to listen, observe and understand plays an important role. Empathy is a vital skill that can build strong and trusting foundations of relationships between the designer, team and user.
Everyone’s part of the design process
Design is a team sport and the designer is the captain. The goal of the designer is to inspire the team to work together and succeed. I believe in the power of education through collaboration. It doesn’t matter if you’re an engineer or a salesperson, everyone’s part of the design process. Teamwork opens up more perspectives. The best ideas can come from the most unexpected places.
Start with the future
When I travelled to Japan, there’s one thing I learned that stuck with me. It’s a form of planning called backcasting. To solve complex problems, you have to think of the most ideal solution and then work backwards. It is a search toward determining the scope of a challenge posed by constraints.
At the start of a project, I stay open minded to the infinite possibilities of finding the right solution. I encourage the team to think blue sky. Doing so highlights the technical constraints to get to that ideal state. It then becomes a negotiation, which leads to defining the core of that solution. Finally, connecting the core back to the ideal state is done through a series of iterations — solving each constraint along the way.
Form and function are one
Based on a philosophy by the famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. He strove to unify space and create a harmonic environment not separate from nature but as a unified whole. In product development, if the solution is too complex, either it gets simplified or scheduled into multiple releases. Neither code nor design should be sacrificed just to meet deadlines. The two sides should always work together to provide value for the user.
Emotions will outlive pixels
Designers often get caught up with drop shadows and colour values but rarely focus on emotional impact. People remember the feeling more than the detail. When a solution works, it evokes an emotion. That emotion can either make or break the product.
I aspire to give life to every project while solving the problem. Technical design knowledge is important but understanding who I’m designing it for is more significant. Even the simplest of solutions can have the biggest impact on people’s lives.
Great products solve problems and make people feel something. After all, it’s called human centred design for a reason.