Design Studies

How many design alternatives have you tried before picking your solution? If you are a code designer, I expect your answer to be very close to 1. Most other designers would find this unthinkable.

Why? Because your brain is lazy and will pick the path it knows best. This phenomenon is called “satisficing”, but in software design we often call it “intuition”, or “past experience”.

Intuition is great because it helps you find solutions fast. But how do you ensure that your intuition gives an appropriate answer? There’s only one way: by developing it. Your intuition is built upon past examples.

Designers from other domains use a specific technique to expand their intuition: design studies. This is a form of deliberate practice based on a conscious exploration of a variety of potential solutions. The solutions are not only on paper, but they turn into prototypes that are evaluated and compared based on their design qualities.

This allows designers to make better choices whenever faced with deadline pressure. Their intuition is still not perfect, and to obtain really good designs the best way is to build more prototypes for each problem. But this is a hard sell for software designers, yet. A good next step is however if you decide to build your intuition using software design studies.

To help you, we’ve created a list to get you started. Check it out here:

Written on June 5, 2018