Sunday, July 8, 2007

Design, Intelligent and Otherwise

I find the ongoing debate between the proponents of evolution and the believers in intelligent design to be fairly ludicrous. I understand why the content of school curricula is important to both sides- education shapes outlooks for later in life and we all want our children raised with our values- but as an interactive designer, I'm trying hard to figure out why the two ideals are incompatible.

When my team sets out to create an interactive experience, we never come to the conclusion right out of the box. There's discussion, and questions, and discovery, and exploration. We'll create dozens of wireframes, selecting the best to go on to the next phase, and discarding the rest. Sometimes we'll travel down one path, only to discover it's a dead end- our interactive design has grown too complex for the needs of the project, or it has been rendered obsolete by a changing environment. We've had to scrap entire lines of thought and their attendant designs more than once, and start over with a clean sheet of paper and a fresh outlook.

Image: An extinct interface, from a company that has itself evolved into another form.

With all this fine tuning, and iteration, and exploration, our design process looks a lot like... an evolution of ideas. The much-loved rollover preview feature in our application turns out to be a trilobite in user testing and is finally excised; or the three extra configuration screens we reluctantly added to our interface turn out to be so vital they expand into their own family of applications.

For the record- I am a firm believer that our species and all others are the result of countless generations of evolutionary change over the unimaginably long gulf of time. I also understand the absurdity of comparing my team of all-too-human interactive designers to the concept of an infallible Designer creating the entire universe and all life therein... but I've also never met a designer who didn't iterate on their work, evolve their output, and believe that they could improve their creations with just a little more time.

No comments: