Designing Your Purpose

Spencer Ward

There are few words more confusing than "design." It means many different things in many different contexts. Designing an Android app is wildly different from designing a building, which is wildly different from designing a database. What does this word "design" actually mean?

Moreover, why should anyone care about design? Most development teams could create an iOS app without a design team, but few design teams could create an iOS app without a development team. Even when they're paired together, a designer's obsession with their "perfect vision" can feel like a burden to a good developer.

How much design does a project need? Should designers be able to hold a project back? Can a project on a budget skimp on design? Is it enough to just make an attractive, accessible UI?

What should be designed? Give an expert designer enough time and they can create almost anything. Even within a single project, there can be many different paths to "good design." Which path is the right one?

All of these questions can be answered by a universal and intuitive view of design. Design can be seen as creative thought directed at a purpose. In that sense, design encompasses every action and every idea, whether we think about it or not. Planning a party? That's a design problem. Writing a book? Design problem. Thinking? Design problem.

However, when we approach any of those problems, we can't expect our purpose to come out of nowhere. Often, the most obvious ideas of purpose can be naive or superficial. Purpose can't be found by luck. Purpose has to be honed and developed, just like every other step of the process.

What can we learn from this? As with anything creative, purpose can be designed. By applying a thoughtful, holistic design process to the very intent of a project, rather than simply the interface or the icons, the entire project can be refocused around cohesive goals to deliver the highest impact possible.

This talk will aim to guide the audience to form their own understanding of the design process, recognize how they can apply this newfound lesson in parts of their life they would have never expected, and learn how to design their intent so that everything they do has potential to be powerful.

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