How to hire designers

Original author: Paul Adams
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A great product that solves a problem that no one needs is a failure. An ugly product that solves a real problem can be successful.

A post explaining some of the questions under the article " Dribbbification of Designers "

There is a vicious circle of misunderstanding of design

For years, the importance of good design in software development has been underestimated and misunderstood. Designers around the world complained that the development department simply orders to visually implement those ideas that have already been approved by someone else. They ironically called themselves "monkeys with Photoshop." They were constantly in search of new jobs and new teams. They knew that what they had to do was not design.

A lot of people worked for years to overcome this misunderstanding, to explain that design is not just how something looks. This is how something works. Steve Jobs said best of all:

“Most people are mistaken in imagining design as a visual representation of an object. They think that this is an external gloss - that designers are given a box and they say "do it beautifully." We think this is not a design. It is not only how it looks and how it feels. This is how it works. ”

Slowly but surely, software companies began to see those who put good design at the forefront overtake the rest. An obvious example is Apple.

This understanding has led to an increase in the number of vacancies for designers, and an increase in the number of companies that understand the importance of good design. At the same time, these companies did not quite clearly understand what they needed - it was new to them. So they went to sites like Dribbble in search of "good designers." But Dribbble does not give a good design idea. And here he is, a vicious circle:

-> Dribbble is dominated by conversations and assessments of design skills -> recruiters judge design by portfolio -> designers looking for work create profiles on Dribbble -> young designers conclude that Dribbble represents what is most important in design -> see paragraph one.

As a result of the work of this circle, designers do not develop their skills, because it reinforces the wrong opinion about design as a purely aesthetic discipline. Therefore, recruiters hire visual designers, expecting them to be good product designers, which is not happening.

Visual design does not exist in a vacuum

In previous articles, I mentioned four levels of design:
- the desired design result;
- development of the necessary components;
- detailed analysis of interactions;
- appearance.

I believe that these levels do not exist separately. Good designers understand all four, and the best visual designers understand how to develop very good interactions. In my experience working with designers, several people were well versed in one or two levels, and were good at the rest. If you have the opportunity to develop at all four levels, then the overall result will be greater than the sum of the individual parts.

Evaluate designers in relation to the level of design you need

When hiring designers, I usually look for people whose work is very good at two levels, and who seek to learn about the other levels. Recently, I used the following template for searches:

Vertical - the quality of the designer (outstanding / competent / knows the basics).
Horizontal - design levels (result of work / system development / interaction / appearance).

At a minimum, visual designers should fit this pattern:

Before you say "we need a designer!", Think about what kind of designer do you need? A product development-oriented startup CEO will have different requests than a CEO who is focused on finance and analytics. By the way, if you want to have everything at once, then such designers are incredibly rare:

You cannot separate visual design and interaction design

They are intertwined. Cycles, state changes, data changes. How something looks should be subordinate to how something works. If you are a visual designer who wants to develop at the level of interactions, I recommend Dan Saffer’s book “ Microinteractions ”.

Some say that since appearance primarily attracts people, then the visual level is the most important. I do not think so. Visual design is very important, but people are also attracted by a certain value of the product - what it can give them at a level higher than just appearance. We are constantly confronted with ugly products that have become successful ( Craigslist ), and beautiful products that have not taken off ( Color) Beautiful things lure people, but people will not stay if the thing has not been worked out for beauty. All levels are critical.

Dribbble is what it represents, because it is used as it is, whatever you call it

Many people support Dribbble and say it’s a “showcase site,” “twitter for designers,” “a place for design that is not constrained by the limitations of the real world.” But for me, all this does not make sense. If this is a place to discuss work in progress, why then there are few drafts and so many completed work. If this is the place to look for visual inspiration, then it is more art than design, and it makes no sense to look for designers there. Great artists - yes, designers - no.

The best description of the service that I have seen is the type of portfolio, advertising, which attracts recruiters to your site.

If you're popular on Dribbble, that doesn't make you a great designer.

There are really amazing designers and examples of work that don't focus on the visual layer alone. But these are exceptions. Basically, a typical portfolio is proof that you are good at graphic software, understand modern trends in visual design, and in some cases have a good command of one of four design levels.

We just need to break the vicious circle

I don't care about Dribbble or any other portfolio site. I need to break the vicious circle. It is worrying that novice designers do not meet the true power of great design. So that they do not engage in work that they cannot handle, that they do not develop products that no one needs, and that they do not come up with any understandable interactions. So that companies investing in design do not fail because they do not know what they need. I'm talking about the education of designers, and first of all - about the idea that design is how a thing works, and not how it looks.

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