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There’s a really good article about why people should stop having ‘usability’ and ‘intuitive’ as a goal for design.  I’d go even further and add ‘innovation’ to the list.

These are actually outputs of a decent process, not something you can start off with, and as the article says, single word concepts like these mean different things to different people.  In my experience, it also allows people to weasel their way around the challenges these bring, by using self-serving interpretations.

What the article suggests doing, is to create a vision statement for the design – to provide a roadmap for the designers to reference, and to give them directions for what they should be aiming for.  There needs to be a sound company culture to support the efforts that may result in innovative products, or usable and intuitive websites.

It reminded me of the NZ Government Web Standards.  The first version was very prescriptive.  It said precisely what should be done, and as the years went by it started to look more and more out of date (with requirements such as the 216 colour palette).

The rewrite dropped the specific outcomes, and used a more generic approach, describing what the accessibility goals were, without saying precisely how they should be achieved.  This allows both the designers and developers freedom to use current best practices to do the best job possible, without being constrained by the requirements of 5 years ago.

Telling designers and developers how to do their job will only result in frustration on both sides.  Just explain what your goals are and why they’re important, and you’ll get the results.


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