John Maeda is right. And Designers know it.

The value in Design goes beyond just “design”

In the aftermath of the latest Maeda’s annual design in tech report publication, in an interview with Fast Company, John Maeda declares that «design is not that important». He says so even if studies prove that design led organisations thrive more than others. Only Designers can fully appreciate the truth of Mr. Maeda statement.

Who works in projects following a users centred design approach knows that design alone it’s not enough: working in a multidisciplinary team is essential to the success of the project.

A typical project team at Digital Detox

Designers know that to produce something that has real value, the team needs to look after the three essential ingredients that make a successful product:

  1. Users needs
  2. Business needs
  3. Technological opportunities

When Mr. Maeda says that «design is not that important», he is absolutely right. To cover all these three aspects properly, Designers know that they need to work alongside users, engineers and business experts to create value for whoever can be impacted by the final outcome of the project: not only users, but also the business, both in their whole context.

“Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” — Tim Brown, Ideo.

Design decisions are driven by the insights coming from the owners of these three aspects and the success of the product comes from the quality of the collaboration between them. Designers know that to foster innovation they need to listen to all the parts in the game and to facilitate each team member to contribute equally to the design decisions. Designers know that Design thinking is not (and must not be) just for “designers”.

If design alone is not enough to generate value, design thinking is fundamental to create a framework where heterogeneous teams work to reach the best outcome with the most value for users and businesses. And Designers know it.


John Maeda is right. And Designers know it. was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.