Week 203: Designing Design

| Hans Gerwitz

We passed our 200th week and I didn’t notice. Our 4th anniversary is coming soon, but celebrating that will wait for summer; April is already disrupted by Resonate and King’s Day.

We have been keeping busy. One large project (yet another phone-connected device) is with a new client team, which is always a good challenge. Each new client means we have to design our project differently to accommodate different desires and processes on their side. These changes only strengthen us as an agency, as gaining this experience helps focus on which parts of our approach are negotiable and which are critical to the quality of the work.

This sort of meta-design can take a lot of energy. The company as an organization has to be continually designed (even still). Our office and tools evolve while we as individuals make decisions about our growth. Project approaches are designed for unique clients and new challenges. Most notably, the artifacts we produce to describe a design must themselves be designed. Each project calls for different levels of detail and balance between systems and instance specificity.

No amount of “process” can mechanize design, but documentation standards can ensure some quality. It is usually under-appreciated how much effort is spent and how much value is embedded in the methods a design team uses to communicate intention. So it’s especially gratifying to see developers not just understand but express gratitude for clarity, or large corporations adopt our homegrown methods as their own.

Maybe someday we’ll publish some of our techniques and standards, but we’d rather err on the side of too humble than adding more noise to the world of canned solutions.