Designing the impossible makes it possible
As an interaction designer, I hear a sentence at least once on every project I work on. “We can’t do that because [insert mediocre excuse here].”
A lot of the time this is because of technology restrictions. We can’t integrate with legacy systems. Or, we can, but the legacy system wants the information in a ridiculous format. So we have to change the design to ask for a mandatory middle name, where people have to write “none” in the box to progress. Urgh.
It’s easy to make a snap decision, bow to peer pressure and change the design. After all, we don’t want to waste our time designing something that’s not possible.
Only, that’s exactly what we should do.
Design is about pushing what’s possible. It’s about taking something right to it’s breaking point and saying, “ok how can we get past this.” If you don’t, you end up designing something that is a shell of what it could have been, and probably not fit for purpose.
Always ask, “why?”. Why is it not possible? Why can’t we do it? Why can’t we do more work to make this possible?
We should be researching prototypes that are currently impossible to build. Only then will we learn how good it could be. How easy it can be to use and how efficiently we can make it perform.
Start with the perfect scenario, and then tweak it until it becomes realistic. Rather than starting with whats realistic then struggling to make it better.
In Government we have a saying, and that is “do the hard work to make it simple.” It’s in our design principles. It’s in everything we do.
We shouldn’t be making things complicated and difficult to use just because it’s easier for us to build. Or, because we are too scared to challenge the status quo.