Solving Problems with Design

August 14 2012 User Experience Design

While some may consider design as simply a “visual art,” it is much more scientific and specific than that. In fact, a quick glance through its various definitions uncovers a recurring pattern of specific words: Scheme, Plan, Protocol, Function, Purpose, Mental Project.

It’s the planning of how something functions, of how it works before it is built or made. As the leader of our U/X and U/I planning at RSR, I strongly believe that design begins before anything else does. Design is, for me, challenging assumptions and asking questions that provoke the team to consider new options.

A favorite quote of mine, by Anthony Jay, states, “The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a very creative mind to spot wrong questions.” This is a similar concept to being told to think outside the box. When you think inside the box, you stop asking provocative questions and are likely to reuse the same standard answer that is in our creative toolbox.

We must approach things with a higher level of thinking, and not only find what isn’t working but why it isn’t working. We must challenge the process and imagine beyond limits. We need to be inquisitive and question the who, what, where, why and how of every touchpoint to determine the best way to design something. You cannot find the right answer by asking the wrong questions.

Digital is rapidly merging art and functionality. At RSR we employ analytics, data, user testing and more to help us uncover the answers to questions. As designers, we need to be fluent in analytics and comfortable with data as we explore how our designs affect conversions and business goals.

After all, good design solves problems. You just have to know how to ask the right questions.

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