Victor Lombardi’s post on Digital Web Magazine titled Concept Design Tools asks us to consider incorporating a concept design stage into our process to improve the breadth of our design solutions. That’s a key area where I find Bill Buxton (referenced in the article) an impressive force in the industry. As Bill points out repeatedly, each design decision where you fork in the road needs to have five valid alternatives of which you are equally NOT invested. Only by doing so can you sit down and critically discuss the designs without hurting the designer’s feelings. And, this extra thought brings out the fruit of otherwise unrealised design possibilities.
Both Victor and Bill have a point – where is our design process preceding the implementation phase? The moment we receive the brief we’re practically falling over ourselves to push forward, and implementation seems to go on at the same time that we’re figuring out what the product should do. This is as applicable to web solutions as to applications, we jump in boots and all with predetermined assumptions. The introduction of conceptual design, or at least a real pre-design stage like architects or movie makers go through, would be highly beneficial to our outcomes. They would improve our products significantly.
In Victor’s article he points out a key component of this pre-design phase – not just redesigning the interfaces, but rethinking the interaction model. How could you do that better? Is that really the best way? What if we moved outside the square and provided a service that did something better than the convention (said cautiously)? It’s only by working through these design ideas that we come up with great ideas.
Where is the breadth of our design? They have a point.