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WHAT CAN DESIGN TEACH US?

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WHAT CAN DESIGN TEACH US?


A quick recap of what we did so far:

  1. Defined what we’re making – a one bag travel experience in a form of a backpack
  2. Touch the topic of aesthetics and why we aim for simple and clean appearance
  3. Did an investigation of primary and secondary features. Based on survey results we got a better idea of what to prioritize and what can be left out.
  4. Did a visualization
  5. Made the first prototype
  6. We will begin making the second prototype next month and plan to have a finished version by the end of it!

Hey all!

We received a lot of suggestions for the carry-on, which is awesome! The more ideas you give us, the broader our understanding is. And the broader our understanding is, the more though out our conclusions will be. Having done the major parts of the bag, we’d like to hear more on internal organization and pockets. If you have some ideas, leave a comment below.

With only a month left and the final version right around the corner, I think it’s the perfect time to do a wrap up of the general topic of design.

WHAT IS DESIGN?

If you followed us from the beginning, you might have already noticed that design is a three stage act - conception, visualization, and execution. Of course, this is a simplification, the reality being closer to:

Problem, conception, visualization, problem, problem, problem, new concept, new visualization, execution, problem, problem, problem, problem, problem, compromise, new visualization, execution, problem, problem, problem.

Basically, a three stage act with a lot of problems and constraints in between.

CREATIVITY IS ONLY A PART OF THE DESIGN PROCESS

When people think of design they think about clever ideas, creativity and art. In reality, the design process is closer to project management where you manage and guide a lot of different parts towards a specific destination. And you do it within a limited time-frame and with limited recourses. While creativity is important, it’s not the only piece in the puzzle. A designer is not an artist, he/she needs to deliver.

TO GET THINGS DONE, YOU NEED TO KNOW HOW TO MANAGE

If an entire project is dependant on a single designer then he/she will most likely be the project manager for it. That’s why learning the basics of project management is essential if you want to be efficient and capable of getting results. It makes you think in terms of budgets, time-frames, and priorities.

That being said, you don’t need to be a designer to get benefits from understanding how to manage projects. Learning how to swim or getting that dream job, it’s the same project management with the same limited time and resources. And the better you are at managing that time and resources, the better-off you will be.

So why is it that the way a designer makes decisions on a project differs from how most of us make decisions in our personal lives? Can we add some design thinking in our everyday lives?

A DESIGNER’S TAKE ON LIFE

The difference is in the way we approach decisions in general. A designer or any project manager has three things on his/her mind:

  1.      GOAL (What you want to do? How big is it?)
  2.      MONEY (What resources you have at your disposal?)
  3.      TIME

To achieve a goal, you use time and money. Generally speaking, the more money you have, the less time you will need to reach the same goal. Don’t have money? You will need more time. Don’t have enough time or money? You should rethink your goal.

WE CAN THINK IN A SIMILAR WAY

Every decision you make in your personal life will be heavily influenced by the same three things. 

Is it worth learning to play the piano?

Let’s say you want to learn to play the piano. Let’s assume it takes 2000 hours of constant practice to get good at it. Also, assume each 2-hour lesson with a teacher will cost you $30. You take the lessons 3 times a week. In this case, your goal of learning to play the piano will set you back $30,000 and will take you 28 weeks.

Okay, so spending $30,000 is not something you’d want. Fine, let’s take out the private tutor and do this piano thing the “self-taught” way. In this scenario, your goal of learning to play the piano will cost you almost nothing (let’s assume you have the piano already) but the time will increase from 2,000 hours to 10,000 hours  (~2.5 years if you practice 3 times a week) because you won’t have a guiding hand that will push you and help you navigate through the learning process.

At each extreme you face different problems (money vs. time). A designer would look for a compromise between how much money he/she wants to spend and how much time he/she can spend doing it. In our personal lives we don’t think too much about time. If you set a deadline, you can then start to compromise on how much lessons you should take to make the learning process reasonable both financially and time wise. This will immediately give you a better chance of success than to say - I will buy a textbook and just learn at my own pace.

How to invest?

Another example would be if you’re a stock investor. Your goal is to make more money. To reach that goal, you will need to invest the money you already have in some kind of stock. Now the third variable, time, is what makes this interesting. If you are prudent, you will put a moderate sum in a low risk investment and hold it for 10 years. But if you are more of a “go hard or go home” type who wants the same return in a short period of time, then you’ll need much more money in order to reap the similar short term rewards.

Basically, the more money and time you have, the bigger things you can do in life. I think that’s a reasonable assumption. But how does it help us?

JUST LIKE MONEY, YOUR TIME IS LIMITED

Being aware of these constraints can help you make better decisions and stop wasting time on certain things. You start noticing how some things are worth more than others. When we make decisions in our personal life we almost never use analytical reasoning like this. We start a project without thinking it through. We don’t give it a proper deadline.

You can’t get more time than you already have, which makes it the most valuable resource you possess in life. We tend to take it for granted, while a designer is willing to spend money to save it.

TO THINK LIKE A DESIGNER IS TO THINK EFFICIENTLY

1. Getting your priorities straight

2. Focusing and spending time on things that really matter

3. Refusing to stress and waste time on the insignificant little things



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