A reminder for myself and fellow designers

This thought has been brewing in me for a while now, and while I’m not yet ready/brave to share it on social media, I thought I should try writing a bit of it down and see if it clarifies itself.

I feel that design has always been seen as a profession defined by our output. As designers, we produce tons of stuff — our output is even known as designs! We create illustrations, videos, photography, posters, books, wireframes, user flows, mock-ups, prototypes etc. People not familiar with design view these various forms of output as means to an end, as project deliverables, as marketing collaterals, as vessels for ideas and solutions. Not unimportant work; quite the contrary, because what use is an idea if it isn’t executed well?

I’d like to say, yell it from rooftops: please use designers to design more than just designs. Design thinking has done much to amplify the importance of design in innovation and business, but I’m still not sure if anyone besides designers sees design more than just output.

Design is not a checkbox, and it extends beyond merely screens, interactions, and content. Designers already do more than design mock-ups. We figure out how users get from A to B, and we strategise to make those journeys easier, or we get them to try C instead. We now run workshops and facilitate difficult conversations where no one wants to make decisions. We go out and talk to customers. We want to make people feel smarter and better about themselves, and I think those are good aspirations for any profession.

Most of us designers know that our industry has been changing. We know we are more than just our design output. We discuss and ruminate about our changing roles on Twitter, LinkedIn groups, and on Medium.

It is hard to make people listen, so I think we show them instead. We have been evangelising and we’re making strides. Sometimes we’re successful, sometimes our best intentions fall flat.

Let’s continue trying.