While working through my Pocket List this AM, I came across a compelling and well crafted argument for the rise of product thinking by Nikkel Blaase. In it, he argues explains that designers should think in products, not features. He goes on to outline a process for doing so.
He makes the case clearly in support of product design. And, frankly, I agree wholeheartedly with him. He’s 100% right. This is how we should be thinking.
But it also made me wonder why it even needed to be said at all.
Isn’t “product design” just good design period? If you take money from people for “design” and you aren’t thinking this way, then perhaps you should rethink what you call yourself. You’re not a designer. You’re a decorator. A designer solves problems. A decorator makes things look pretty. There isn’t anything wrong with making things look good. It’s just not design.
Design isn’t arbitrary. It’s purposeful. If it’s not purposeful, then it’s not design. It’s art.
As designers, it is our professional responsibility to design experiences that are both relevant to the user and ownable by the brand.
In order to do that, we need to actually step back and think about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. As Nikkel astutely observes, you need to actually understand the problem before you look to solve it.
And you need to solve it with a distinct point-of-view. This isn’t just about look and feel. It’s about work flow. About hierarchy. About values. It’s the complete frame of reference from which to make design decisions.
This approach doesn’t seem all that novel to me. It sounds like purposeful thinking. Like problem solving.
It sounds a lot like…well…design.
At least that’s how I define it. And how I practice it.
I thought that everyone else did too.