Designers Lie. That’s OK.

When I read this, I thought it had to do with something other than what the article actually was about. What a fantastic article, it summarizes exactly what I do on a daily basis and the problems that we as designers face. And the truth of the matter is, that our job is to humanize the machine.

And then, of course, you ask us how we work. We respond with confidence, bold Helvetica outlining our design process: research, ideas, prototyping, testing, iteration. We hope you approve of our rigor, and perhaps even believe it ourselves.

But the project is always more fluid. We splash between the phases, unable to separate ideas from output, problem from solution. We explore promising avenues that, days later, become dead ends. Sometimes, we solve a month’s problem in an hour. It seems unfair to charge you the same regardless, but it avoids those difficult conversations.

Try as we may, we can’t justify every decision. The birth of an idea is ineffable. Although we hope it came from our research and analysis, we can never know for sure. Intuition and experience influence our every thought.

We try to predict the effect of our work, but the truth is that design is always a gamble. We can tip the odds in your favor, but never guarantee a jackpot.

Sometimes we proclaim design to be art, sometimes science. This upsets both the artists and the scientists. Fortunately, it’s neither. We claim to understand human behavior, but are surprised by it daily. Despite what we say, there are wrong answers. The fold is a myth only when it suits us. And yes, criticism still stings.

Don’t misunderstand—we aren’t bullshitting you. People who’ve taken our advice have profited from it. But design resists minute analysis—break it into its constituent parts and it crumbles into dust.

So, reluctantly, we lie. We lie because otherwise nothing would happen. We lie because we don’t have the words. We lie because we’re human. And being human is what it’s all about.

Cennydd Bowles – 52 Weeks of  UX

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