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Comment on "Measuring the Design Process"
by Arlen — Mar 24
The Ford/GM stuff is a little lean on facts: Actually, for a significant part of its product life (including when it was first released) the Model T was available in many colors. GM moved ahead of Ford not because of colors, but because they changed the conversation: while Ford continued to sell on price alone, GM changed the conversation to be about luxury features and buying on credit (something Ford refused to support).

The real problem between Google and Doug Bowman was nailed by a single sentence, back in #6657: "Great design creates new data."

Sometimes people don't know what they want until after they have it, sometimes even long after. Data doesn't help in making those decisions, because the effect of the design hasn't been felt, yet. Those decisions need to be made by intelligence, as guided by experience. If the project manager has the courage, that is; if not, then the easy decision is to let the numbers speak. That way if he's wrong, he can push the blame onto the study the numbers came from, or the people participating in it.

Have a look back at the great industrial design triumphs of the past. How many of them were brought about by polling data vs the vision, experience and talent of a single person or small team?

Back in the early days of the desktop computer, a new term was coined: "visi-knowing." It meant being deceived by the numbers in front of you into believing they accurately represented reality. A university once held a competition between two teams of students. One team used a set of tools centered around a spreadsheet, while another used a set centered around a word processor. They were given data, reports, etc., from many companies and told to make the decision to purchase or not. The spreadsheet team said to purchase, the word processing team said no. They were right, the company was an empty shell.

Numbers are *not* the final answer, no matter how earnestly Charlie Epps declares it. I'm not saying designers are always right. but what I am saying runs counter to this visi-knowing, even wiki-knowing, age: following the herd is usually sub-optimal.

What it comes down to is fear of failure: Design by data is rarely horrible; it's also rarely beautiful. Design by human designers can be either.
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