about contact us

No posts containing your search terms were found.

Your search did not match any documents.


  • * Make sure all words are spelled correctly.

  • * Try different keywords.

  • * Try more general keywords.

How to design anything

. Iga

Today a couple of quotes and paraphrases from an article I read in August issue of Wired, titled “The Master Planner”, an interview with a really smart guy, University of North Carolina computer scientist, and author of a few books -the latest one “The Design of Design” - Fred Brooks. His insights are known as Brook’s law.

His first insight: “You can’t accelerate a nine-month pregnancy by hiring nine pregnant women for a month. Likewise, you can’t always speed up a [...] project by adding more (people); beyond a certain point, doing so increases delays.”

When Brooks was asked about design process, he stressed out that a great design comes from great designers, not necessarily from processes. He then continued by saying that a key component of the design process is for an organization (or designers) to identify the ‘scarcest resource’ and optimize for it. It doesn’t always mean that the scarcest resource is money. In Formula 1, for example (and this is not the example he used, but this one speaks to me better), the money is there but the scarcest resource is weight. The constructors must build the most aerodynamically efficient, technologically genius car, but they must build it as light as possible, and distribute that weight evenly across the car to ensure the right balance. The drivers even cannot wear a wrist watch on a race day, because that adds extra weight that will cost them fractions of a second (the difference that separates the fastest car and the following 10 drivers on the grid is usually less that a second per lap). It’s hard to think that way of an e-commerce site, at first, but it is a foundation for achieving great design.

Brooks also cites that a good method of design is to begin with a vision of what you want to accomplish and then proceed to one by one remove the obstacles that prevent you from achieving that vision. It is far more successful to start with a vision rather than a list of features (I think it’s how Jobs/Ives designed iPhone – slick and beautiful, while the other phone manufacturers were in a feature war with each other. I can see the feature war with the top e-commerce sites right now, including ours, but none of them is offering the customer the big vision that can grab their imagination (hearts, and wallets) and make them follow).

Brooks is also a big seeker of knowledgeable criticism – without implying that it is mandatory for people to always play it nice regardless of what their expertise and experience tells them is the right thing to do. In other words, we need to be open minded and welcome different points of view, even when sometimes they are in direct opposition to ours.


Post a Comment

<< Home