Designers, Good Designers, And Great Designers.
To design is to solve a problem. And we solve problems all day long! Does that make everyone a designer?
Got into a fight with your partner?
Here are some possible solutions:
- Shout and scream until you explode
- Bring them flowers
- Whip yourself a hundred times in an act of self-flagellation
- Write a card
- Buy them a present
- Stop talking and hope they forget about it (my favourite), etc.
Finally, you communicate, resolve the issue, win them back, get back together and cuddle. Aww!
Well, yes, that makes you a designer. Not necessarily a good one though!
Now imagine, Someone has been eating your sandwich at work.
What do you do? You put a tiny note on the sandwich hoping the eater-cheater would read it and wouldn’t eat it. That’s one solution to this problem and that makes you a designer. Not necessarily a great one of course!
You could also draw a cute little illustration asking him to bugger off or you could hide and wait for the thief to steal the lunch and confront him.
Best: you could buy the whole company and he’d be on his way (that would teach him a lesson!)
To reduce it to the core, a designer essentially is someone who solves problems. A love note, software, videos, missiles; whatever be the solutions.
Everyone is a designer. And because everyone is a designer, design usually is taken as an afterthought in most projects, in most companies. (Hello…calling design thinking; we need you here..)
Why do we need designers then? And what differentiates a designer-but-not-really-a-designer, designer, good designer from a great designer?
An everyone-is-a-designer-that-makes-me-a-designer-too a.ka. designer-but-not-really-a-designer falls prey to solutions.
They love their idea so much, they want it implemented right then. They love it so much, they can’t look beyond them. They love it so much they can’t stop talking about it. They love it so much they want to go against everyone else and marry it.
Only eventually they fall in love with a new idea and cheat on the older new idea. But hey! Who am I to judge?!
Designers are experts at cracking solutions. They bring their creative energy into making beautiful experiences. Every once in a while, it works the same way they expected, and that’s about it.
Now, good designers fall in love with a bunch of things:
- Finding a problem: A good designer is an expert at drilling a problem. They obsess with the problem. They convert a business problem to a user problem. They ask an awful lot of questions and they truly understand the challenge at hand. A good designer finds the right problem to crack. They iterate on it.
- Knowing users: They understand their users and they know the user scenarios. They know the who, when, and where. They truly represent their users and stand up for them. They keep going back to their users to know them better.
- Solution(s): They are obsessed with the little (but big) details. They know what they want and what’s needed by the users. They don’t rely on any one solution. They iterate. They don’t just aim to satisfy the user’s functional needs, but they want to aim for user delight.
- Data. Data. Data: They know what to track and what they want to change.
And this is where a great designer comes in and goes beyond the usual: they stop working in silos.
They understand that it’s not their job to just be creative. They know they are not artists. They don’t hate on those designers-but-not-really-designers. They learn from their expert knowledge and bring them together to solve for the same cause.
They listen to them, bring them together and enable them to create more solutions and take them to the right problem. They help them diverge and bend their thoughts. They help them break up with those ideas they are in love with. They lead people to solutions.
They know when to let their creative juices flow.
To become a great designer, you truly have to believe in design as a tool. Not to romanticise with it, but you have to live like a designer; accept it as a philosophy. They solve their everyday problems understanding the process of solving problems.
So if you’re aiming for greatness, make a mental framework to solve problems and apply them in your life. But hey! What do I know?
Now, hit that clap button till you break the internet.
Chirag Narula is the Design Head at Grofers.
We are always looking for designers, good designers, and great designers. Interested in joining the team? Get in touch with me on LinkedIn or DM me on Twitter.
Thanks for reading Lambda.