Designers Weren’t Designed To Solve Everyone’s Problems

Interesting piece by Mills Baker on the failure of designers to prove themselves worthy at “the table”:

It’s now 2014, and I doubt seriously whether I’m alone in feeling a sense of anxiety about how “design” is using its seat at the table. From the failure of “design-oriented” Path [1] to the recent news that Square is seeking a buyer [2] to the fact that Medium is paying people to use it [3], there’s evidence that the luminaries of our community have been unable to use design to achieve market success. More troubling, much of the work for which we express the most enthusiasm seems superficial, narrow in its conception of design, shallow in its ambitions, or just ineffective.
This essay has been getting quite a lot of attention in the tech/design world in the last week.
I have a lot of thoughts on it, but not enough time to write fully my reaction. I will say this: Designers are but one person at the table when a company creates websites, devices, apps and software. In much the same way as the majority of people use the word “innovation” incorrectly, many people misunderstand the role of designers.
An example of what I mean: Despite how amazing a product designer Jony Ive is, if it wasn’t for Steve Jobs’ skills in BOTH business and design, the iPod—and iPhone and iPad—would have been nothing but beautiful museum pieces for the design wing of the MoMA. Tim Cook’s acute understanding of supply chains moved Apple to buy up the world’s supply of 1.8″ hard drives following the iPod launch.
There’s also a lot semantics we need to sort out with this topic. To design is to solve a problem, be it visual or otherwise. Creative directors are many times more involved with business objectives than they are about the quality ofd the visual designs.
Lots to chew on with this essay.