🎨 Design and the seat we really wanted at the table

Is DesignOps making design... worse?
  • Consistency is important when it enables recognition, but not more important than affordance, wayfinding, error recognition and recovery, etc.
  • Design systems are important if you need a system to build things faster. They do not have inherent value. They are a tool.
  • Most web/SaaS products are forms, dashboards, and visualisations. These each have clear design principles and there’s less and less reason to violate those.
  • Wherever possible do not reinvent the wheel, especially in regards to inputs and interaction design. If you can use something your users are familiar with, that is almost always best.
  • Copy/content is one of the most critical parts of any design. Consider starting here. Every team building things for people to use needs a great writer.
  • Stay low-fidelity for as long as possible if you can - even if Figma is fast. It helps your team to contribute to the design process by keeping it in a realm where they feel somewhat proficient, and prevents sunk cost fallacy which can cause people to stop interrogating designs at a higher fidelity as they don’t want to cause “expensive” rework.
  • Self-described “end to end” designers (and “full-stack” developers) are usually too junior to understand the depth of understanding required to be good at everything. It’s fine to be a bit T-shaped, but deep knowledge and skill can only be built over a long time.
  • Design can be done without research but it is simply hypothesis. If the organisation can tolerate untested hypotheses (and the associated risk) this may be preferable. Usually this is not preferable, especially when the audience is large.
  • Designers’ decisions and recommendations are not as unfounded as hypotheses, especially if the designer is experienced. Designers bring years of synthesised lessons, internalised values and principles, lessons from past mistakes and design heuristics to each decision. The other side of the coin is that they also bring their own biases and assumptions. Being able to extract your knowledge from your assumptions is a critical skill.