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On design exercises, creativity vs. structure, and more

News you can use from Design Twitter
On design exercises, creativity vs. structure, and more

On Design Twitter, no conversation is ever really over. We see the same topics come up time and again. Designers are extremely passionate about the tools, processes, and thinking behind their work. And with the user always top of mind, they’re taught to follow curiosity and ask questions. So it’s not surprising that when a controversial question comes up, they often respond with vigor. 

In February 2020, designers shared insights on time-honored topics like design exercises, creativity vs. structure, and the history of design systems. Also notable, a counterargument to the business-minded approach and the merits of open design. 

On design exercises 

A much-discussed topic has resurfaced on Twitter as of late: Is it ethical for companies to assign design tasks during the hiring process as way to test a designer’s skill? The answer seems to be a resounding "no." Former Digital Communications Lead at EMBL Mark Boulton outlines the history of the conversation, as well as the recent conversations on Twitter, in his blog post

Peter Merholz, DesignOps pioneer and author of Org Design for Design Orgs, agrees and says the companies whose reputations are defined by quality don’t conduct exercises. 

Design systems go way back

We recently asked experts from Pinterest, Microsoft, and other companies about some of the most common mistakes they’ve made when it comes to building design systems. Though we may consider them to be a relatively new concept, when it comes to building digital products, design systems have been around for a long time. Jina Anne, a design system advocate, points out that traditional and printed media have used design systems "for ages," and shares the example of Richard Danne’s work for NASA. Read the thread for more great examples.

Improvisation in design systems

Remember blogrings? While nowadays most people share their stories and experiences on Medium or in a Twitter thread — the blog still lives on. Recently in a blog post, about a blog post, about a blog post, about a blog post, about a blog post, there was a discussion on the industrialization of design systems. Could the consistency we’re striving for kill all potential creativity? When we automate everything, is there any room to improvise?

Yesenia Perez-Cruz, Shopify Senior UX Manager on the Polaris team and author of Expressive Design Systems, counters the argument that design systems stifle creativity. In her presentation at Amuse Conf in October 2019, she details how she thinks about enabling harmony, flexibility, and improvisation in design systems.

What’s your experience with situational decisions and design systems? Is there a set of rigid rules to follow, or can you improvise along the way? Share with us at @goabstract.

To business or not to business 

In recent articles and on Twitter, we’ve seen leaders urge designers to think and speak more like business people. They argue that aligning your work with business goals can bring more visibility to the impact of design. Emily Campbell, Director of Experience Strategy at InVision, challenges that idea, saying that when designers act like business people, they diminish what endears them to the business in the first place. 

She goes on to say that understanding business needs is important, but we shouldn’t forget that businesses are turning to design seeking something different than what “business thinking” has brought them in the past. So, in essence, it’s important to have a common language, but designers bring a new approach. 

Here’s to open design

After returning from Figma’s ConFig Conference, Aurora Pleguezuelo, a Systems Designer at GitHub, shared her thoughts on the benefits of open design. She says that by detaching ourselves from the pixels, we can work toward a more transparent process for the good of everyone. Additionally, she says we have a lot further to go when it comes to design docs and data.

Lucas Morales, UX designer at Mojang, also shares that showing unfinished designs to his team is his favorite part of the process.

When we open up design, we all benefit. 

Do you keep up with design news on Twitter? Or do you save your opinions and conversations for smaller design communities? Or both? We’d love to hear your thoughts on these hot topics or other design trends you’re seeing. Share with us on Twitter at @goabstract.