Are Product Designers being lazy?
So I was watching the most recent Vergecast and they got to the point where they were talking about HP, about HP copying Apple, etc (around 1:15:00). and the point was made that the SGS3 was the first phone “designed by lazy designers”. “The idea that there is a laziness going on in the world of product design”.
What I found ironic about this statement, and my response upon hearing it, is that it’s the same situation they spent a majority of the segment talking about with Danny and Scamworld. It’s a lumping of the product design world as whole into the category of being lazy. Now my experience in the world of product design is limited, but I think there’s an important thing to understand when talking about the design of the products and the actual designers responsible for the product. Not every company values design equally, designers aren’t necessarily in charge even when they are present in a company and companies themselves often contract design firms for big products.
In the product design process there are many hoops to be jumping through before a product ever sees the light of day. Designers aren’t necessarily at the top of the food chain in the decision making process. Sometimes they sit at the bottom, behind engineering, marketing, sales, etc. I think the AndroidPolice.com article about the SGS3 being the first phone designed by lawyers probably holds more truth than people may think. There often is one too many cooks in the kitchen and all will different motives. I don’t mean to say that engineerings/marketers get in the way of, or aren’t capable of aiding in the process of designing good products. They are an essential part of the process, and without quality and similar focus throughout the entire process, you can’t get great design to market. It’s an understanding from the top down that design is important, and that a good design will go a long way. Now I’m sure all companies will say they value design (and I’m sure they genuinely do), but it’s more of a culture than just a check mark or selling point of a product.
I have worked with, or had connections through friends with people all over the industry. I’ve met people doing the work for these big companies and would never categorize them as lazy or being bad at their profession. Their personal work is often quite good.The reality is design is just one step along the process towards launching a product and as designers, we aren’t always in control through the entire process and more often than not lack luster products make it to market.
Some of the good work going on in the product design industry...Smart Design, One & Co, MNML, Astro Studios, Carbon, Fuseproject, NewDealDesign, Ammunition group, Whipsaw, Lunar, Teague, frog, Huge this list could go on and on and should include those who work for some of the bigger companies like Nokia, Apple, Samsung (who does a lot more than just phones) as well. There's a lot of good design discussion on Core77 and places like Co.Design.
I’d personally like to see the Verge do a bigger dive into the field of product design like they have done with some of these pieces like Scamworld. I think it would be good for them as a way to educate past the top level discussion of design that often happens on the tech blogs and across the market.