[A designer] takes pride in a skill based on experience and an alertness sometimes interpreted as vision. He approaches every problem with a willingness to do painstaking study and research and to perform exhaustive experimentation. He is equipped to work intelligently with the engineer, the architect, the physicist, the interior decorator, the colorist, and the doctor. He must know how far to go and when to stop. He must be part engineer, part businessman, part salesman, part public-relations man, artist, and almost, it seems at times, Indian chief. He operates on the theory that it is better to be right than to be original; therefore, he steers a course somewhere between daring and caution. If the merchandise doesn’t sell, the designer has not accomplished his purpose.
HENRY DREYFUSS, DESIGNING FOR PEOPLE
Barring any potentially politically incorrect characterizations in the preceding quotation, Dreyfuss might as well be talking about modern digital product design.
If we accept that a digital product’s purpose is to serve a customer (and I hope that you can after all of the history we’ve explored together), then a product designer’s primary job is to understand the audience they’ve chosen to serve.
Once that’s in place, the product designer’s job is crafting the product that will best serve that audience—and, in the process, taking on a slew of intersecting roles required to get the right product ...