What Is Design?

By Dennis Field • About a read

What is design? Have you given any thought to it?

Believe it or not, design is not just about the fonts, colors, images, or layout a designer chooses. Yes, we call it designing and the result is often called a design, but really design is about problem solving. Great design solves real business challenges.

The most innovative companies know this. That is why everyone loves them and why they continue to be the best. Yes, their product or website may visually look great, but the real reason why these companies rise to the top is that they solve their business challenge better than their competitors do.

That is part of the reason why people can fall in love with an app that may not be all that visually pleasing. Since it’s super fast to use, functions flawlessly, and solves their pain and problem so well, customers can’t let it go. The visual design is just the icing on the cake.

“It’s important to know that great design can’t be faked.”

Click to Tweet

It’s also important to know that design can’t be faked. You can’t just dip your toe into design. Trust me. I’ve worked for companies who faked design, and it was dreadful for all involved. It was sometimes worse than the companies that I worked for that had no design goals at all.

Design is something a company has to really want and own. When you look at innovative and design-driven organizations, there’s a conscious effort to build a system for design to live within.

“When you look at innovative and design-driven organizations, there’s a conscious effort to build a system for design to live within.”E

Click to Tweet

Design is a living and breathing thing that has to weave its way through the entire organization to work effectively. The deeper it goes, the stronger and better it gets. No, nothing is good in excess, so it does need to be contained from time to time, or the process can get out of control. But more often than not, design is a very powerful thing for an organization to let run wild.

Why? Because when the organization focuses on design, everyone gets better at their jobs. They are empowered to design the best things that they can. Whether it’s the designer who’s designing the interface, the developer who’s designing and architecting the code, the project manager designing the plan for the next sprint, or the writer and content team who are crafting the best content and strategy for it. Everyone is empowered to solve their own individual problem in the best, simplest, and most efficient way possible.

“When the organization focuses on design, everyone gets better at their jobs.”

Click to Tweet

Most people believe that design has to start and end with the designers. That is not true at all. If that was the case, then why would some of the most design-driven and innovative companies be founded and built by developers?

Design is the responsibility of each and every person inside an organization. It’s not just owned by the design team — it can’t live in a black hole, or it will never evolve. Design makes it possible for everyone’s great ideas and skills to come together, and live in perfect harmony seamlessly.

In the end, design is a way to ensure that a company continues to stay financially strong, run efficiently, and be respected and loved by its customers.

“Design is a way to ensure a company continues to stay financially strong, run efficiently, and be respected and loved by its customers.”

Click to Tweet

So tell me why you love design. Do you agree that it’s not just the designer’s responsibility to create the best solutions possible? Let’s continue the discussion on Twitter.

Until next time.

Dennis

P.S. If you’re struggling to really make design stick in your organization or with your clients, let me know. I have some tips and resources I can share with you.

Comment on Twitter


Author

What Is Design?

Dennis Field

I’m a designer and educator who works @invisionapp. I’m also writing a book that helps other designers reach their goals. You can find me on Twitter @dennis_field.