Quirky, Kickstarter, Jovoto…crowdsourced product development is here to stay. Certainly there is an exciting element to involving the community to help find solutions that meet user needs. Product development is becoming more accessible to the masses. But it also raises the question of who is a designer, and whether a designer needs training.
Traditionally, designers attend school for a foundation of design principles, followed by the majority of education as part of professional experience. This is the path we have pursued, and there are many advantages to learning fundamentals.
But more and more everyone is being encouraged to act like a designer. Community sites allow consumers to vote on design directions and CAD and graphics software tools are accessible to many. Business executives are being pushed to think outside the box…consumers are being given opportunities to shape design directions…We are doing our part by promoting design thinking with this film.
Is this a good thing? Do the benefits outweigh the risks? One thing to consider is that a designer’s training and awareness offer the opportunity for a more holistic solution that considers everything from technical features to sustainable approaches in the development of a product. But perhaps an even more significant consideration is that consumers don’t really know what they want…
Apple is a great example of a company that is providing innovations that become accepted parts of consumers’ lives, but they don’t ask consumers what they want; rather they propose solutions to consumers based on observation and an understanding of technological possibilities. Roberto Verganti discusses this in his book, “Design-Driven Innovation.” http://www.designdriveninnovation.com/
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