UI Design is more than a pretty face

17 Feb

Luke Wroblewski discusses the benefits and drawbacks of “mockups” (or we could assume “prototypes” as well) in his latest article on UX Matters, Live by the Mockup, Die by the Mockup. The article is a nice summary of ideas many of us have been discussing about the benefits and drawbacks of prototyping. But his conclusion is great, tying these ideas back to the real role of the UI designer:

When interface designers focus too much on mockups rather than product solutions, the design profession may suffer. This type of dilemma already exists for visual designers, who are routinely called upon just to “make things pretty.â€? As a result, every interface designer should focus on building a reputation as a problem solver and communicating that through the language of design and business. The presentation medium will change, the need to solve problems will not.

I often use this quote from Elizabeth Boling at Indiana University because it’s the most consice phrase I’ve found to dispell the too common misconception:

“Designer” does not mean “artist” — though lots of people want to think it does. The job of a designer is not self-expression, it’s problem solving. 

A powerful portfolio then for a UI designer/architect would include business problems with the designer’s solutions. I hope to have such a portfolio posted sometime soon.

1 Comment

Posted by on February 17, 2006 in prototyping


One Response to UI Design is more than a pretty face

  1. Tony Ferrante

    March 24, 2006 at 2:12 pm

    Great points.

    Any time the development process looses sight of the driving business-case (solving a business problem) things are usually going backwards. There has to be a purpose behind design other than the design itself. Interfaces enable, they aren’t an end unto themselves.

    I think the other part of this is that the designer also has to contribute to the mock-up process by communicating what can’t be done or can’t be done effeciently to guide the business input down towards a workable solution.


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