Using Process, Logic, & Input to Approach Design
Rigid Work Doesn't Work
My thoughts throughout the day are often focused on where things are, and where they are going. Things like visual aesthetics, trends, design patterns, user preferences, and what's good or bad. Its important to think about these things because they determine how to create a process when approaching a design. I've heard people say that a good design process needs to be well defined, predictable, and repeatable. This definition however, is lacking. It feels like a lie invented to bind design to commerce. The real process issues don’t arise until you think about major design challenges.
Logic & Process
The problem with rigid processes is two-fold. First of all, a process that is “predictable, and repeatable” is not conceptual enough to solve design challenges at a massive scale. Consistency and unification will break down at some point. When users can't build a mental model across a suite of interactions the experience suffers. Secondly, this type of process will always be behind the ever-changing relationship between interactive behavior and technology. In other words—its not conducive to long term relevance. Not to mention that its impossible for a single process to successfully solve any design challenge—we kid ourselves to admit otherwise. So how do you approach design at scale?
Every so often you come across some words that seem to have been written just for you. While processing thoughts of the future I came across Conditional Design—a beautiful approach to some of the challenges described above. Their Manifesto is worth repeating in its entirety and is as follows:
1. Process - The process is the product.
- The most important aspects of a process are time, relationship and change.
- The process produces formations rather than forms.
- We search for unexpected but correlative, emergent patterns.
- Even though a process has the appearance of objectivity, we realize the fact that it stems from subjective intentions.
2. Logic - Logic is our tool.
- Logic is our method for accentuating the ungraspable.
A clear and logical setting emphasizes that which does not seem to fit within it.
- We use logic to design the conditions through which the process can take place.
- Design conditions using intelligible rules.
- Avoid arbitrary randomness.
Difference should have a reason.
- Use rules as constraints.
Constraints sharpen the perspective on the process and stimulate play within the limitations.
3. Input - The input is our material.
- Input engages logic and activates and influences the process.
- Input should come from our external and complex environment: nature, society and its human interactions.
The future embraces patterns and assumes best practices. Processes can leverage this knowledge to be flexible. Apart from personal experience, the proof is evident. Look at the companies that are truly innovating the tech landscape and its obvious that innovation isn't born from a repeating method.