Monday, August 22, 2005

Designers as Interpreters

Apple languished for many years in the early 90's financially before Steve Jobs came back and produced the first line of iMacs in 1998. These iMacs set the standard of design in the computing industry, only because they appealed to the consumer mentality of personalization, ease of use, simplified product line, and a better cost/benefit ratio. Steve Jobs seemed to respect the idea that the product should be driven by complex technology that is simplified and personalized for the consumer.

Designers are interpreters. We as designers spend time understanding our client's real problems, and attempt to solve those problems instead of simply giving the client what the client "says" she wants (or spending time pushing solutions with a lot of design technical jargon). The client may say she wants a website designed that is "simple but hi-tech looking." But what she may be leaving unsaid is, "I don't feel like I compete with the big guys. I want my site to look like their sites, and they look hi-tech and I like to navigate their websites. They are able to garner a good size of the market. I want to be able to compete with that. Can you make me like them?"

If the designer is adept, he can help the client unearth her desires that lie underneath the initial request. And maybe steer her away from being an also-ran. In other words, the designer understands that the real problem is that the client wants a website that looks as capable as her main competitors' website in order to appeal to her identified market. If the designer is thinking, he can ask the right questions to help her create solutions that focus more on reaching her target market and garnering market share without being an also-ran web entity. Thus, giving the client what she really wants: a personalized approached and easy to understand solution for business positioning using strategic design.

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