Why there is so much Bad Design?

I am a firm believer in the Human-Centered Design Process. So, why are there so many bad designs? Here’s why:

  1. There was never a Designer involved
  2. The Designer was brought in on the project too late
  3. There wasn’t a person(s) to implement the design
  4. The implementer(s) of the design do not have the right skills
  5. There was no time to implement the design properly
  6. Technology limitations could not support the design

Yes, many things have poor design because a Designer was never involved in the first place. There are still many people out there who just don’t understand the value of good design. Everyone needs to read The Design of Everyday Things.

Another tragedy of bad design is the Designer was brought in to late. Taking the time to answer the fundamental questions “what is desirable, viable and feasible” before you begin a project is the key. Observing your target audience on how they do things today, developing prototypes and testing them with that audience is all a part of the process of making great designs.

So many great designs just never get implemented because of lack of resources, skills, time or technology limitations. If you don’t hire the people – with the right skills – and give them the time and tools to implement the design then it won’t happen or it won’t happen well. When a great design is compromised you reap what you sow.

So what should we do to have great designs?

  1. Hire a great Designer (with the right skills)
  2. Start the Design Process as early as possible
  3. Hire great people to implement the designs (with the right skills)
  4. Ensure you have the right tools and time to implement the design as specified

Not all Designers are equal. Just like with any professions, Designers level of experience vary. Hire the level of experience needed for your desired results. And too many times I have seen the wrong type of Designer hired for what’s needed. Don’t hire a Graphic Designer to do Usability. Don’t hire an Industrial Designer to do Graphic Design. Don’t hire a Service Designer to Textile Design, etc. Match the skills with the job. If you don’t know what level of experience you need or skills – asks someone who does.

Once you have the Designer with the right skills, ensure that they are involved as early as possible in the project. Plans don’t fail – people fail to plan. The earlier you can vet assumptions, evaluate concepts, and validate the designs before production, the better off everyone will be. This is the real value of having a Designer and following the Design Process.

Hire great people with the right skills to implement the design and give them the right tools and time to implement the design as specified. Do not compromise the design specifications – it will result in a poor design. Commit to the design – innovate technology if needed to meet the design. Sometimes, with this commitment to design, the design can be improved or enhanced with innovations in technology and/or a highly skilled craftsman.

And that is how not to make badly designed things.