An interview with design influencer John Maeda recently was published with the headline “John Maeda: In reality, design is not that important”.
At first glance, it’s an incendiary title that has already sparked some heated debate. Once you look past the onerous and clickbait-y title Fast Company went with, Maeda touches on something quite important.
“When designers do get more power than their developer counterparts, they build weaker products.” Here he mentions the relationship between design and development specifically but the idea is not exclusive to those disciplines. It’s that when a single discipline leads a business, that it undermines all others. The point of what Maeda is saying is that contextualizing the design discipline in the framework of business is something we overlook and are not thinking through.
Having been known.creative’s first intern gives me a bit of a wild perspective on how we have grown and developed over the years. Again and again, we’ve encountered the need to incorporate all our teams at earlier stages in projects. With each project, we grow, iterate, and tinker our internal processes to achieve one that is “more perfect”. This often involves every team being given the space to voice ideas, concerns, and relevant topics that should get covered. It can sometimes feel like spinning our wheels but the results usually speak for themselves. Teams are acclimated to participate actively, they learn each other’s “language”, and are set up to focus on the client needs together rather than in silos.
Knowing how to integrate with multiple disciplines is not only important for my growth as a designer but is also mission critical in creating meaningful experiences for our clients and their users. John Maeda’s message is not about design taking a step back but rather it’s about being better at working with other disciplines.