Mills Baker on Design and Solving Human Problems

“Using Paper, I have a sense of anxiety: what if this is what designers make when not yoked to “product thinking”? What if Matas et alia sans Jobs or Forstall are capable of impossibly perfect physics in UIs, of great elements of design, but not of holistic product thinking, of real product integrity? What if design uses its seat at the table to draw pretty things, but otherwise not pay much attention to the outcomes, the user behaviors, the things enabled?”

“In order to avoid losing its place atop organizations, design must deliver results. Designers must also accept that if they don’t, they’re not actually designing well; in technology, at least, the subjective artistry of design is mirrored by the objective finality ofuse data. A “great” design which produces bad outcomes —low engagement, little utility, few downloads, indifference on the part of the target market— should be regarded as a failure.”

Mills Baker has some great thoughts about the role of design and its impact on the success of a product. It reminds me of an old adage. “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. If design is to assist in the utility and usefulness of a product, then you should have some specific goals around what success looks like. Otherwise, you’re just spinning your wheels.

Update: Mills added some followup on Quora. He also posted it on Medium. Worth an additional read.