A key concept for design

Posted by on November 26, 2007
Never be afraid to make decisions. All decisions are temporary. Make them, and be willing to be wrong. The only way to get better is to learn from your mistakes and accept that you’re only as good as you can be in any given moment.

This is the third item in a list of six tenets of design, but in my opinion should be number one. Why? It’s a primary concept of programming (and life) – trial and error – and might be the key concept that helps bridge the gap between programming and design.

I am a programmer. When I make a mistake with code I have a compiler to tell me that it’s wrong. I make an attempt at a fix. Wrong again. Rinse and repeat. Until it’s right.

Who knew the concept could be that simple for design?

While I am in no way a designer, I’ve learned several techniques to structure information so that users can quickly find what they are looking for. I didn’t learn it overnight (just like programming). Nor have I learned it all. I’ve read a few books, blogs and studied great designs. They all make it look so easy! But, it’s just like programming – they rinsed and repeated until they got it right.

I’ve been through several iterations when coding the design for this blog, but until now I can say that I haven’t truly thought of designing in the same way I do programming. I guess I just expect to magically be able to create the perfect design in the first sitting, rather than let it evolve.

What makes designing different than programming is that there is no right answer. It’s how I view it that makes it good or not. Maybe this shift in thinking will help me to take risks – temporary risks – with my designs, until I get it good enough – for me.