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Stop Saying “Great Design”

The term “design” is a broad one, as all-encompassing as “technology.” And yet imagine how ill-informed it would sound to apply the same subjective valuation we place on “great design” on technology without any specificity.

“Wow, that’s a beautiful technology!”
“Hey, great job doing the technology on that!”

That’s where we find ourselves today — treating design subjectively without any sense of process — as startups especially struggle to understand consumer-facing product design and attract design talent.

In parallel with an increased focus on product design, misconceptions and confusion have arisen as well. I’ve founded that UX designers are often considered “makers of wireframes” rather than product owners, or a more strategic voice of the customer. UI designers are looked at a Photoshop-guru resources, able to skin any screen with beautiful perfection on a moments notice. And increasingly startups are looking for “unicorn designers” who can brand companies, churn out marketing collateral, and contribute front-end code all in the same week.

Herein lies a misconception that undermines the value design can bring to new ventures. Design is a process, not a resource, and a mindset rather than a set of tools.