22 May 2012
The May issue of Wired carried a fascinating article on how the people at this magazine look for the next big thing. In “How to Spot the Future”, executive editor Thomas Goetz writes that “we have developed our own set of rules. They allow us to size up ideas and separate the truly world-changing from the merely interesting.”
Among the seven rules developed by Wired, the one that struck a real chord was “Demand deep design”. It’s a rule that product developers and design engineers everywhere should take to heart.
Goetz writes: “Too often in technology, design is applied like a veneer after the hard work is done. That approach ignores how essential design is in our lives.” Yet: “Good design is much, much harder than it looks.” And often, the example of the few companies who get it right fails to be emulated by the market. Look at Apple: “the company’s design imperative is forever cited as intrinsic to its success, but Apple still stands curiously alone as a company where engineers integrate design into the bones of its products,” says Goetz.
He goes on: “Thankfully, we are on the verge of a golden age of design, where the necessary tools and skills — once such limited resources — are becoming automated and available to all of us. This timing is critical. “Too much information” has become the chorus of complaint from all quarters, and the cure is not more design but deeper design, design that filters complexity into accessible units of comprehension and utility. Forget Apple’s overpraised hardware aesthetic; its greatest contribution to industrial design was to recognize that nobody reads user’s manuals. So it pretty much eliminated them. You can build as many stunning features into a product as you like; without a design that makes them easy to use, they may as well be Easter eggs.”