Dumb ideas

Unhelpful helpfulness

It seems that most of my usability frustrations these days involve trying to prevent software from helping me in unhelpful ways.

Software wants to finish my sentences for me, correct my word choices, anticipate my formatting decisions, offer me a handy tip on how to do what I am doing.

The experience is like being followed around by a clueless, eager college graduate who just wants to be helpful, but has no idea how, but who somewhere picked up the idea that demonstrating an intent to be helpful is better than doing nothing.

Doing nothing is far better than constantly forcing me to undo unhelpful helpfulness.

Dumb ideas

Another 2023 New Year Resolution

This year I am adopting a new rule: Every time I find myself yelling at an inanimate object I will stop yelling, and write a Design Grouch rant instead.

Apologies in advance for the avalanche of content this unwise resolution will unleash.

Dumb ideas

2023 New Year Resolution

This year I pledge to maintain a strict 2:1 ratio of people who like me to people who cannot stand me.

Any less than that, I’m probably misbehaving. Any more than that I’m probably being a wuss.

I’ll leave it to you to guess the current ratio.

Dumb ideas

Everyone is not a designer

A great many people, many of whom are not professional designers, have begun telling people that they are designers.

Consequently, a great many people who have never systematically practiced design have come to expect acknowledgment of the fact that they designers, and they especially come to expect this from professional designers.

A professional designer who won’t embrace everyone else as fellow designers is a snob or a jerk.

Well, I happen to be one of these snobbish jerks.

I have good reasons for this, in addition to actually being a snob and a jerk.

For one thing, part of my job is attempting to get other people to do design, and I’m here to tell you: a lot of people suck at it and can’t do it.

For another, I have to use things that non-designers have designed or product managed, and that has led to the miserable existence of this garbage blog.

Now, of course, the idea that everyone is a designer is not entirely wrong. After all, we do all design, sometimes multiple times a day.

But does this mean that everyone is a designer? Isn’t a designer someone who has put enough effort into developing design skills that they’re good at it? I mean, think about it. Everyone prepares food. Do we go around claiming that everyone is a chef? Don’t we reserve that term for someone who has deliberately cultivated their cooking skills?

It is strange to me that out of all the professions, it is design that is required to flatter everyone else that they’re also designers.

Now I’m all for the idea that everyone can and often should participate in design.  I’ll also say that most people could benefit if they improved their design skills. Some people have talent and can potentially improve their design skills a lot and become really great designers. And a great many people just don’t have the ability and temperament and won’t ever get that good at design. So what? Nobody’s good at everything.

So, everyone designs. Not everyone designs well. Not everyone cares if they design well or not. Some think they design well, because they aren’t even clear on what a designer is supposed to do, and don’t bother going about it the right way.

Those who do care if they design well, and work at figuring out the best methods for doing it well, and then practice these methods in order to get better and better at them — those are the people we should call designers.

Moral: Until we say that everyone who cooks is a chef, everyone who obeys the law is a lawyer, everyone who speculates on other people’s minds are psychologists, everyone who puts a bandaid on a cut is a doctor, everyone who has a theological opinion is a priest, everyone who believes in gravity is a physicist — let’s please fucking stop saying everyone is a designer.