Chapter 1. Goal-Directed Design

This book has a simple premise: If we design and construct products in such a way that the people who use them achieve their goals, these people will be satisfied, effective, and happy and will gladly pay for the products and recommend that others do the same. Assuming that this can be achieved in a cost-effective manner, it will translate into business success.

On the surface, this premise sounds quite obvious and straightforward: Make people happy, and your products will be a success. Why then are so many digital products so difficult and unpleasant to use? Why aren’t we all happy and successful?

Digital Products Need Better Design Methods

Most digital products today emerge from the development process like a creature emerging from a bubbling tank. Developers, instead of planning and executing with a mind towards satisfying the needs of the people who purchase and use their products, end up creating technologically focused solutions that are difficult to use and control. Like mad scientists, they fail because they have not imbued their creations with humanity.

Design, according to industrial designer Victor Papanek, is the conscious and intuitive effort to impose meaningful order. We propose a somewhat more detailed definition of human-oriented design activities:

  • Understanding users’ desires, needs, motivations, and contexts

  • Understanding business, technical, and domain opportunities, requirements, and constraints

  • Using this knowledge as a foundation for ...

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