Stuff that we do
Graydon Carter: What was the first Apple product you used before joining Apple?
Jony Ive: In art school. The computers colleges had were terrible. I assumed the problems were with me.
When you eat something that's bad, you assume the food is bad. But when you use a bad product, you assume it's you.
In art school I used the Mac. There were some shocking things. For the first time in my life, I had a very clear sense of the people who had gotten together to design and make that product. I realised there is stuff that we do that attests to our values. From that point, I developed a real interest about these group of guys in California that made a computer that you could change the noises.
Wonder how many of us sat in front of computers a decade ago playing with those early web 2.0 sites, suddenly realising how interesting the internet was going to be, but also how terrible it all was and wondering who would ‘design’ it like that.
On the subject of UX, Mark wrote an article for The Manual about the patronising-as-shit term ‘Visual Design’:
Graphic design is as much about use as it is about look. The semantics of the title of the craft – the graphic in graphic design – hide the true pursuit of the craft. It's not about graphics. It's not about shapes and moving them in two-dimensional space until someone (usually the designer) deems them to be beautiful. It's not about making things pretty.
Real graphic design is about creating things with stories, for people to use.
But what about the designers? What about the visual designers inhabiting the UX industry? What do they do? If they’re getting wireframes from people and told to make them pretty, they’re not designing. They're decorating. They're applying a surface level sheen to someone else's thinking. Because if you just go by Jesse James Garrett's diagram, the story is already being told on the four layers beneath. The designing is being done there. This fifth layer is hardly more than some swirly frosting with a cherry on top.
Good graphic designers concern themselves with the what, the who, and the how. The message, the audience, and the mechanics. This is exactly how professional web designers work on the web. If, as an industry, we feel we need to call this practice something, can we just call it what it's always been called? Let's call it graphic design.
Visual Design is not a thing in The Manual