Leading design is equipping others

Anne’s approach has been different. When she joined the team, her first assignment was to go through what the team had already done. She found most of the screens to be poorly designed, with a lot of jargon and extra work for the users to do simple things.

She immediately scheduled usability tests and invited the developers to watch users work with their designs. The outcome was as she predicted: not very usable.

Initially her teammates were deflated, but they caught on quickly. And saw the opportunities for change.

Anne never held brownbag lectures about fundamentals. Instead, she went to the whiteboard with the developers and sketched out new designs. She explained why she was changing things.

Eventually, the developers started coming to Anne with their sketches before they started implementing anything. She’d share what she thought would work and what she thought might be an issue for the users.

Over time, she told us, the developers would start to critique their own work. They were getting better.

Designing without a Designer
Jared M. Spool, UIE, May 20, 2015

Converse, All Star Chuck Taylor II, and customer research

Calhoun’s mandate to the All Star team was simple: Assume we don’t know our customers as well as we think we do — get to know them better. Copcutt did so by playing roadie to his son’s London-based rock band, Zoax. He spent weeks at a time tagging along as they played beside bands with names like the Howling, Axewound, and the Cancer Bats, asking everyone who’d talk to him what they wanted from a pair of Chucks.
John Brownlee, Fast Company, September 2015 issue

Playing hide-and-seek with yourself

Using an interface or acting out a flow that you have designed can be a little bit like playing hide-and-seek with yourself. Your inability to fail at using the design might not hold much relationship to the quality of the design itself. Get your design into someone else’s hands early on to help keep your thinking divergent and honest.

The Distinction Between Designing for Enterprise vs Consumer Customers
Daniel Kerris, Medium – Designing Atlassian, 2015-07-13