The Eternal Struggle for Designers

The other day I was in session with a client who was a designer. We got to talking about the struggles working with other disciplines in integrating design, user experience, and research.

This has been around since the dawn of user experience and design. 

If you looked at my profile, you’ll see I led user experience and design at Yahoo! for many years and experienced firsthand the struggles that those in the design world face every day.

What are those struggles? 

The battle for relevance.

People pay lip service to design but aren’t really bought in.

The perception that design is only about prettifying and art.

The misunderstandings of how design integrates with teams and process.

The fact that design encompasses many disciplines within it, and that each one is its own full discipline.

The fact that finding a single person to do it all is nearly impossible.

The lack of true understanding of the value of design and how it can maximize the end product.

Dealing with other team members’ inability to release their own biases and what works for them.

The lack of power in an organization.

The lack of TRUE support from the top down.

Did I miss anything? I am sure there are others.

Still, those of us who work in design LOVE what we do.

It is both highly creative and analytical at the same time. And so it can bring a sense of using our whole being instead of just one side or the other.

There is a great sense of satisfaction when our users tell us they love the products we work on, and that we’ve helped teams uncover insight they would have missed or been wrong about.

And so we strive for relevance and do as good work as we can given the circumstances.

However, depending on the organization, it can be a huge struggle to maintain sanity and positive outlook as the conflicts and barriers in teams wears us down.

Many have wondered whether to stay in a discipline given the uphill battles we face every day.

If you’re a design professional, what are you facing today in your work place?

There are many possible resolutions to these workplace challenges. It could mean more advocacy and education. It could mean more work in establishing authority and clarity of roles. Or it could mean a change in scenery. 

What could be the possible resolutions for you in your situation?

And if you work with design professionals, ask yourself:

Do you understand design? (It’s more complex than you think!)

Are you truly supportive of someone(s) who can improve what you’re working on?

If not, what could you do to lend more support for a fellow team member?

And given that this resource is here for your team, what can you do to bring this discipline into the process more effectively?

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