Doing Half the Job

Too many of you just shrug when you hear that a smarthomes service has shut down overnight. You even use the word “service” without really understanding it. You don’t really want to have to handle customers, “customer” being the word for human beings who have expressed trust in your expertise and conscientiousness using their own money. Many of you have never done time in retail, and learned the principles of delighting the customer, nor utilities, where you will never hear from a customer until something goes wrong and the victory condition is silence. There’s no dopamine hit in utilities. Don’t do utilities if you want to be loved. Don’t do retail if you can’t handle having the insanity of the human race rubbed in your face every day.
Doing half the job is going to be much, much worse than not doing it at all.   Most people, in most tech fields, only do half the job.

Warren Ellis at Thingscon 2015

You can't be in love with it

What makes a great designer?
It’s the ability to generate a solution to a design problem, put it aside, generate another solution that’s not just a version of the first solution but different, then generate another one. Then you have to be able to critique all those solutions. It’s very hard not to come back with three versions of the same option, just tweaked. And that first idea can’t become like your child—you can’t be in love with it and think it’s perfect, because it never is, and you have to be able to put it away.
Stephen Ashton, 1954–2016


The public is more familiar with bad design than good design. It is, in effect, conditioned to prefer bad design, because that is what it lives with. The new becomes threatening, the old reassuring.
— Paul Rand

Questions about whether design is necessary or affordable are quite beside the point: design is inevitable. The alternative to good design is bad design, not no design at all. Everyone makes design decisions all the time without realizing it — like Moliere’s M. Jourdain who discovered he had been speaking prose all his life — and good design is simply the result of making these decisions consciously, at the right stage, and in consultation with others as the need arises.
— Douglas Martin

Two quotes which sound like they say so much about design and yet really say so little. They are gestures towards broader topics, deeper and darker depths of design critique.