The Dyson Design Philosophy
Design isn't just about how something looks, but how it works. I don't see a difference between a designer and an engineer. A designer should be both. They should be building, testing and using the product, making it work better. James Dyson
This philosophy, when applied to vacuum cleaners, created a fresh product that was technically better, had a more contemporary, fashionable design and was also more user friendly. These product features were totally integrated, they depended on each other for the overall package. You couldn't design how the product should look, and then throw it over the fence to the engineers. It was an integrated, iterative process that incorporated all the aspects of design and engineering to create a successful product. The fashionable look came from the engineering possibilities discovered by the engineers as much as it was created by the designers. This philosophy is directly applicable to the problem of web application design and development.
The Four Box Model
If you don't mind over-simplification, you can divide most people involved in the creation of a web application into four basic areas, or boxes.
- Web Designers
- Internet Developers
- Back End Service Developers
The Creative Silo
I have found that the first stages of a project are usually dominated by the Creative box with no input from Box 2. Ideas people in Marketing get together with artists and interaction designers. Sample customers are given pictures or Flash demos of various page options to make decisions on how a page should look. Interaction designs and specs are produced, and the artwork commissioned. Only after this lengthy process is completed do the Box 2 Web Designers get involved. Even though they might have really valuable input into the design and the way that the whole application might work, it is already too late in the process for them to have an influence.