How technical do Product Designers need to be in order to be effective at their job? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
I believe that the effectiveness of a digital product is primarily the result of these five directly perceivable qualitative characteristics:
- Desirability. A desirable product will be aesthetic, emotive, inventive, and whole.
- Usability. A usable product will be understandable, learnable, consistent, accessible, and localized to a user's language and customs.
- Utility. A useful product will be purposeful and satisfy a customer need, often by way of technological ingenuity or innovation.
- Reliability. A reliable product will be free of long-lived flaws and will be tolerant of unexpected pressures, conditions, and uses.
- Efficiency. An efficient product will be fast, performant, considerate of context, and native to the conventions of its surrounding environment.
All of these characteristics are connected, affect one another, and must be balanced.
It is a designers responsibility to ensure that all of these characteristics are well-considered, well-balanced and well-addressed.
Designers who are not technical will over-value desirability and usability relative to other characteristics. In the worst cases they will over-value desirability alone.
At best these designers will understand the relative value of all of these characteristics in context of their product but, unlike designers with technical knowledge and capability, will be unable to design solutions that are effective in improving their product on the characteristics with which they have not specialized.
A digital product designer must have practical technical knowledge to design a product which effectively delivers on the characteristics of utility, reliability, and efficiency. Further, that technical knowledge will increase the degree to which they are able to design effective solutions to improve upon the characteristics of desirability and usability with which they are already focused.