A reply to a Shopify UX Designer’s article.
The criticism made by the author here is that [Design Thinking] does not take “reality” (and its complexity) into account. My answer is that it has never been the point.
📝 Long answer
The main commentary on this article is both understandable and erroneous. What the author criticizes are the ‘ontological concepts’ that are supposed to represent “The Design Process”, not the design process itself.
Several points to note here:
- These concepts (like the double-diamond, design thinking, etc.) were designed to communicate (mainly) to non-designers, so they have been extremely simplified;
- These concepts are here to help do a “situational assessment” for decision making (and therefore, subjective). They are idealistic (and ideological) simplifications of reality;
- These concepts are not models of reality; They are not predictive of any behaviour in a given situation –since they do not represent any particular context, and on the contrary, tend to (over)generalize;
These are, like the author’s “skateboard metaphor”, a means of communicating perspective and ideas. Likewise, I could criticize “the skateboard metaphor” and say it doesn’t exist. In a sense, I would be right, but it’s not really the point of this metaphor to be a true & accurate representation of reality: it’s enough to communicate an idea.
“For a profession as young as ours, I don’t think anyone has fully understood it yet.”
🤔 There seems to be confusion between the “job title” (e.g. digital product designer) and the associated knowledge and skills?? However, (digital) design has been around for quite a while now…
Finally, it has to be noted that the article seems to suggest that what it says is new or controversial. It seems to be a bias of ignorance:
- It is not new;
- Models have long existed about the emergence of possibilities depending on the context (constraints, adjacent possible, etc.) –you just have to look outside of the (product) design realm for that.
José Torre congrats on the skateboard metaphor 👏 , which is good to communicate the uncertainty inherent to our work and the adaptability required to navigate it. Might need to be adapted for an audience with no skateboard experience (surf, ski, snowboard, etc. 🤷♂️).
Thanks for reading!