When examining the design process, you cannot leave out the designer herself. As I have been exploring different readings and thoughts about the process, several questions have come to mind:

  • What is good design?
  • What is a good designer?
  • How does one become a good designer?

Thoughtful Interaction Design by Jonas Lowgren and Erik Stolterman devotes a whole chapter to the designer, a subsection that addresses design ability.

“Every designer needs knowledge and skill related to her specific profession. Having knowledge means understanding the vast amount of specific information and techniques existing within any design field. Skill concerns the necessary craftmanship. Both knowledge and skill are needed if a person wants to be a good designer.”

Continuing, abilities required to be a good interaction designer are stated thusly:

  • Creative and analytical ability
  • Critical judgment
  • Rationality and ability to communicate
  • Knowledge of technology and material
  • Knowledge of technology use
  • Knowledge of relevant values and ideals
  • Ability to appreciate and compose aesthetic qualities

It is suggested that developing these abilities is a personal journey: “everyone has to develop her own way of becoming a good designer.” Lowgren and Stolterman then suggest that becoming a good designer is a question of “designing oneself as a designer.”

For me, this statement collides with my thesis project, which explores identity and self expression: how products, services, and perhaps people you know act as a means of designing yourself. I have wondered about designing myself as a designer, transforming myself into an interaction designer through school, embracing of the subject matter, and surrounding myself with markers and stickies.

Well, perhaps. Lowgren and Stolterman say, “that to act as a designer, you have to be able to think about yourself as a designer.” They continue, “Becoming a good designer is to some extent a design endeavor, and not an easy one.”

I agree, becoming a good designer isn’t easy, which is why there is a lot of bad design, and will likely continue to be a lot of bad design. The situation reminds me of writing. Nearly everyone can write. Just like everyone can design by picking out clothes to wear and paint for their houses. However, not everyone can write well. Nor can everyone design well.