Natasha Jen spoke at 99U Conference in 2017 about design thinking in her talk titled, “Design Thinking is Bullshit,”1 and I have thought on and off about this for quite some time. Her title and introduction buries her lead: real designers surround themselves with evidence.
We miss this a lot because we’re stuck somewhere between the false dichotomy of design thinking vs. aesthetics. Somewhere in here lies the oft-forgotten roots of our trade.
Design has always been a craft; evidence must be collected with your hands. It is not an intellectual exercise nor is it purely production work. It’s a simplistic profession and complexity is found in the endurance.
Endurance is required to break down an end goal into its smaller parts and test each part individually (whether it’s aesthetics or not) until you find the greater sum. The core of time spent is in observing, iterating, and seeing it through it’s execution.
It’s hard because, frankly, it’s not that exciting from an outside observer’s point of view which is why not everyone can be a Designer. Someone has to watch.
If your product is not in front of someone and evolving, aesthetically pleasing or not, there is no evidence. Without evidence, nothing has been made, much less made better. What do you call a crafter who hasn’t made anything?
Aesthetics should be baked in to something which is intentionally built. That is as far as those two topics go. Design as a whole requires you to do work though and that work is collecting evidence of usage.