“Let us be inspired by good designs”

February 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

“The world is not filled by bad designs because people do not care or do not try. There are bad designs all around us because good design is difficult. I am much more fascinated by the fact that, despite the difficulty of design, good designs can also be found all around. It is amazing how often good designers are able to come up with designs that defy the complexity and difficulty of the challenge at hand.”

Erik Stolterman, “Upset by Bad Design or Inspired by Good Design”

Erik Stolterman has been studying and educating designers for many years, and he knows an incredible amount about what it takes to produce great work. He wrote the post from which the above quote is taken about a year ago, when I was working on a really tough project at Designkitchen and needed the encouragement to keep searching for opportunities within the constraints.

I completely agree — good design is difficult, and as Erik reminds his students (I used to be one), it takes patience, practice, and constant reflection. Even as we, as designers, are humbled by our own design challenges, it can be easy to criticize the work of others without considering the barriers they might have faced. We’ve all done it at one time or another. But what good does that non-constructive criticism do anyone? Jason from 37 Signals recently posted a similar sentiment.

Erik has recently become the editor of Interactions Magazine, and I’m excited to see the direction he and his co-editor take it. Best of luck, Erik!

Update: Andre Torrez and Jason Kottke just posted commentary about this topic as well. I know it’s a topic that always resurfaces from time to time, but I’m glad people continue to speak up about it. From Andre’s post: “I think making the right choices when you face them is the best way to say how things should be done. Having empathy for people doing what you are doing is as important as having empathy for your own users.”

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