updated: April 1st, 2013 / Ross Johnson / 10 Comments

Design to Solve a Problem, Not to Use a Technique

Skeuomorphism vs flat design, responsive vs device specific, web vs native app… These are all heated debates of past and present. I say let’s get past shiny object syndrome. Last year we were pushing RWD like it was the only solution to the device diversity issue. This year we are touting flat design like skeumorphism was never a good approach. But in both cases the debates are short-sighted. Every approach can be effective in the right context.

Technology evolves quickly and it’s easy to get caught up in the new cool thing. It’s OK to be excited by change. Innovation is not only good, it’s necessary. But you can’t lose sight of what we are here to do… solve problems.

Don’t pick a solution before the problem is analyzed. Never assume that things should only be designed a particular way. Everything technique has its place… even “undesign,” sites that are intentionally ugly or minimalist can be effective in the right context.

Rather than get caught up in debates over which approach is better, why don’t we discuss when to use a particular solution, device or strategy? That’s the type of discussion I want to be a part of.

10 thoughts Design to Solve a Problem, Not to Use a Technique

  1. Design to Solve a Problem, Not to Use a Technique: Skeuomorphism vs flat design, responsive vs device specific… http://t.co/eav946HbR2

  2. Design to Solve a Problem, Not to Use a Technique… http://t.co/TPvfYt4eBN #design

  3. What problem is solved by copying every twitter link into a comment?

    I can see several problems it creates:

    1- It gives the misleading impression that there’s a discussion when there isn’t, making the ‘X comments’ thing fairly useless
    2- It creates a wall of text, mostly just repeating the title of the article, that has to be waded through by anyone looking for real comments or discussion
    3- If someone was genuinely looking to see who on twitter had shared this article, and if there was genuinely a discussion going on in the comments section, the people looking for twitter usernames would have to wade through comments to find them
    4- Every page has lots of potentially confusing links to itself via a redirection service

    p.s. side note, the breakpoints on your new design are a bit skewy: the ad overlaps the main content column between 740px and 915px width, and your logo gets pixelated by scaling up between about 320px and 460px.

    The 470px to 670px breakpoint (around small tablet, large phone sort of size?) seems a bit strange too. There’s easily enough space for the buttons to run along the top like in the 670px-740px and full / wide / desktop view.

  4. @Al – Fair points. In our experience discussion of blog posts is moving away from blog comments and towards twitter. Other blogs like Cognition are sharing this model. It also solves the problem of making our comment section look bare 😉

    Please excuse the dust while we work out some of the details of the blog redesign.


    Ross Johnson
  5. Hi there great blog! Does running a blog such as this take a massive amount work? I have very little knowledge of computer programming but I was hoping to start my own blog soon. Anyway, if you have any recommendations or techniques for new blog owners please share. I understand this is off topic but I simply wanted to ask. Appreciate it!

  6. Never cut what can be untied.

  7. Pingback: session 10 : projects and wrap-up | Web Design & Production Foundations

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