You Can Always Start Designing

Over the past few days, I have heard a few students and colleagues say a variation of the following: I don’t know enough to start designing yet. I want to challenge this idea. I don’t think that there is some threshold of knowledge that must be passed before one can start designing. You can always start designing.

Whenever I’ve got an idea (let’s call it a design brief) I go ahead and make some paper sketches or a clickable prototype, both of which indicate that I have started designing. Then, I enter in a dialogue with these things. Donald Schön and Herbert Simon both wrote about this dialogue. Schön called it a reflective conversation, and Simon referred to it as cyclical interaction. You can read more about it here.

Anyway, this process gives me ideas and inspiration about visual design, interaction design, etc., and it helps me generate questions that I need to answer by reading literature or talking to people. I can even put my sketches in front of others to facilitate useful discussions. You can read or talk to people before you start designing, but you don’t have to do it this way. Designing is a way to figure out what you need to know in order to design more. You can always start designing.

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