Filed under [object Object]

Empathise, please

There's a pattern that is visible in the design world where people sometimes put their own visions above that of the user or client. As a result, designers complain about uneducated clients or users that don't get it. Newsflash: not everybody shares your mindset.

I think this is kinda sad, especially because all it takes is a bit of empathy and realising that you don't design for yourself but for someone else and ultimately a large heterogeneous group of people.

While I had the occasional "client from hell" in the past 15 years, I have always tried to foster close relationships with clients and before I even tried as much as to sketch something up, tried to frame the picture by getting as much information as I can to avoid these outcomes.

I never felt particularly comfortable in the "design community" because it felt disconnected from reality. It felt like designers design for other designers. Spending so much time talking about the theories and hot trends that the basic goal got lost in the process. I never saw myself as an artist. And I still don't think that someone designing a thing that is supposed to be used by a large group of people should start with any artistic expectations towards himself. It's not the same thing. Art can leave certain things open, play with expectations, simply ignore them. Design can't.
I think it's great to quantify design and UX because it allows for a more rational view and subsequently, decisions. However, that option doesn't exist always. Either the client doesn't want to spend the money or you simply don't have the time to rush that or other reasons don't allow for it. In those cases, you have to rely on a mix of experience, gut feeling and empathy for the end user. Putting oneself in their shoes, removing fancy designer goggles.

While design is, at the end, more a matter of quantified and explainable processes, your heart should be with the client and the end users while designing. Not with the thing you design. I see this as a conflict of interest. Sometimes I was so sure my design is kick ass just to be vaporised by clashes of taste or simply missing the point. During the past years, I had to create stuff under huge pressure and basically never had time to think about something for too long. That helps to develop a sense to create something that works and can be a first step of an iteration under difficult circumstances.

Design is not self realisation. It's a trade, a craft. Making tools for other people to work with or create a certain facet of feelings for the viewer.