Design & Problem Solving

Collection of insights on how to approach problems.

Design & Thinking #

What is design? And what is a designer? Practicioners are surprisingly protective over that title and its definition. They say unnecessarily heady things or give rigorous processes to follow, thinking their strength lies in exclusivity, enigmas, or some magical assortment of exercises. Other edgelords crow at newcomers: “You can’t be a real designer! You linked to this graphic about UX vs UI! You clearly don’t get it!”

Let me instead offer a practical definition that is accessible to anyone. Because design is better when there are more of us and we all feel welcomed.

Design is the practice and mindset focused on solving problems.

That’s it. If you have a problem and you make something to fix it, you have practiced design. You are a designer.

Are you a designer if you make an app interface? Yes. What about an physical object? Also yes. Doesn’t it require training? Sometimes, but not really. Don’t you have to be creative to design? Absolutely not. You see a problem, build something to address it, and that’s design.

Now that you are free from the cloud of uncertainty, what is good design? It’s taking that problem-solving mindset and realizing that not all problems have the same solution, even though they might look like it on the surface. Again, that’s it.

Practice #

  • The more you cling to process, the quicker you sink.
  • What you are now is the result of what you were. What you will be tomorrow will be the result of what you are now.
  • If you’re stumped, leave it to your unconscious mind to untangle. Take a nap. Have a walk.
  • Everything exists on a spectrum. And sometimes the spectrum is a circle.

Focus #

  • You have a finite amount of willpower that becomes depleted as you use it.
  • If everything is important, nothing is.
  • Deliberate practice cannot exist alongside distraction.

Ethics #

  • You have to be responsible for what you put into the world.
  • Less ‘move fast and break things,’ more ‘move slowly and fix things.’