Designers Are Not Just “Designers” In Today’s Collaborative World

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In just 139 characters, Jared Spool sparked an interesting conversation on Twitter this past week: What defines a designer?

Spool, a founder of User Interface Engineering which is a usability research organization, said, “Anyone who influences what the design becomes is the designer. This includes developers, PMs, even corporate legal. All are the designers.”

At Made By Munsters we could not agree more.

Before you have a meltdown, turn red in the face, or tweet something nasty at us, let me explain.

Having very little training in design, both Joey Kirk and myself co-founded a company based on our abilities to help companies of all sizes turn a non-existent or non-working product into something users wanted.

Our approach for the better part of eight years has been to take what we learned in our journalistic careers and apply that to digital design — yes, Joey and I were news people first. This means working with real facts and not assumptions. Turning hard data into something users understand and can use. And never assume we know everything.

Let’s face it, both Joey and myself are not “designers” in the traditional sense. But, we design products and solve problems as effectively as others with more training, if not better.

This makes Joey and myself designers.

Moreover, when we began to scale our small firm a few years ago, our first hire was a former user experience student of mine, Clay Carpenter. He is a developer by trade and a damn good one at that, but took a course at to become a more versatile employee.

While Clay might not consider himself a designer, we do. He collaborates on and voices his concerns about features daily. As the director of technology, Clay is responsible for creating scalable systems, but his opinions on structure, layout and appearance are vital to our success which ultimately shapes the products we develop.

This makes Clay a designer.

We consider our clients designers.

I know, crazy. Right?

But it’s the truth. They have as much influence on the designs and flows of their products as we do. While it’s our job to steer them one way versus another, they have ideas and we encourage them to bring those ideas to the table each and every time we meet.

This makes our clients designers.

In today’s collaborative digital design environment, we believe that everyone is a designer. Whether you are just sketching a rough idea or working to ensure a brand’s standards are met, you are a designer.

This notion might be hard to hear or accept by some, but it’s the truth.

A designer is not defined by their title.

A designer is defined by their ability to make an impact on a product that results in a direct change to final output.

To that end, we’re all designers. It’s just a matter of what level we leave the design process at.

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