Session with Adam Michela

May 3rd 2016

Quora sessions have turned out to be surprisingly valuable – lots of tough questions for industry leaders, often accompanied by meaningful answers and discussion. The recent session with Adam Michela is packed with useful, practical advice for any designer working with software.

Here are some of my favorite bits, but be sure to check out the full session:

What tools do you think every design team should use?

I believe that design teams should be cognizant of that fact that, for many common uses, these tools do not create direct value. As such I believe that the use of and the time spent in any of these tools should be limited to the creation of artifacts that are necessary to inform the actual creation and alteration of software that is of direct value.

How technical do Product Designers need to be in order to be effective at their job?

A digital product designer must have practical technical knowledge to design a product which effectively delivers on the characteristics of utility, reliability, and efficiency. Further, that technical knowledge will greatly increase the degree to which they are able to design solutions that effectively improve upon the characteristics of desirability and usability with which they are already focused.

What's your interview process like for design candidates?

The job of a designer is to identify problems. Often this requires discontent with the status quo. Discontent must be balanced with a desire and drive to resolve that with which one is dissatisfied.

How do you balance art and design?

In design, it is common for practitioners to only claim responsibility for those first three characteristics. Desirability, Utility, and Usability. Early entrants to the field will typically take the most interest in attempting to deliver on desirability alone.

Do you think as a design community we are building the right tools for ourselves?

It is within these later stages of the contemporary software design process that organizational tensions and non-meaningful specializations are created. We expect production implementations of our interfaces to correspond directly — “one to one” — with our graphics and presentations regardless of their quality in reality. We as Design practitioners demand ownership of our interfaces but eschew the responsibility of ensuring they are realistic, robust, and complete.

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