Don Dodge tweeted today:
Most important hire in a startup? Designer. Better if one founder is a designer.
The Design Fund has an excellent infographic about successful startups whose founders have been designers. This is the reason having a designer as a cofounder is so important:
Now, more than ever, we face complex problems that designer founders with professional craft have the opportunity to solve by facilitating design behaviors with the rest of their team, thus inspiring everyone to have creative confidence and apply design thinking collaboratively. The whole company should practice empathy, not just designers. No longer can design just be an outsourced add on, limited to occasionally putting “lipstick on a pig.” Tech moves so fast that it's a continuous process of iteration for designers to prioritize solving the right strategic problems, contexts and use cases for their company to prosper.
It’s about culture.
I’m an engineer; design is not my forte. But I understand the critical importance of the user experience to the success of a product. I’m in the middle of reading two design books right now, and I hope to make the study of good design a long-term pursuit, even if I never become an outright designer.
The trouble is, software engineers are still the ones who build systems. We need more technical people with design sense, just as we need design people with technical breadth.
The BYU Computer Science department has a user interface course, but it’s a dismal excuse for teaching design. I’m pleased that the Information Technology major has a User Experience & Human Computer Interaction emphasis. They are on the right track.
The CS department trains people to be great coders, but it’s not giving them the skills they need to be successful as entrepreneurs (where design sense is critical) or in companies where the culture of design is central. Self-study is always an option (one of which I’ll avail myself), but I want to see software engineering curricula teach design as an integral part of the engineering discipline.