What to ask when designing

I’ve written numerous posts about design and how it’s defined, but I wanted to share the two questions I ask myself (as well as my students) when starting a design:

1) What problem does it solve?

If the design doesn’t solve a problem, then it’s art. (Art does have a purpose, but solving problems isn’t one of them.) If it doesn’t solve a problem, then why would anyone want to buy your design?

2) How is it better than anything else out there?

Design shouldn’t reinvent the wheel. If you spend time coming up with a design and someone has already done it better than you, then why would anyone want to buy your design?

People buy problem solvers, whether it’s an energy-efficient home, or a music player that fits in your pocket, or a car that efficiently makes doughnuts in the Dairy Queen parking lot. Making money isn’t necessarily a measuring stick for the success of a design, but a great design is something that people should be buying.

Answer those two questions, and then the only thing you need to worry about is your marketing.

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