Get the Powers to Act from Fresh Ideas

January 1, 2013

Product Strategy and UX: Genius Design - Part 1 of 10

Designing for Interaction: An Interview with Dan Saffer has someting to say about genius design.
Dan Saffer is a senior interaction designer at Adaptive Path and has authored Designing for Interaction .

Each of the approaches has produced great products over the years, and perhaps none more so (because it is used the most often) than what I call “genius design.” Genius design is when the designer relies on his or her own experience and skill to design, without any input from users. It's done by designers who either don't have the resources or the inclination or temperament to do research. Too often, it is practiced by inexperienced designers with little skill, but it can and has been used by many designers to create impressive things. Reportedly, the iPod was made with no user research, for example.

I'm not disparaging Jobs' achievements. But iPod did not look to me very "genius."
  1. Steve Jobs had Walkman as his predecessor.
  2. He waited for so long for iPod till the technologies for the components became small enough, light enough, affordable enough, etc.

Then what about Walkman and Akio Morita? How come he was so confident of its success that he defied his own marketing department? No focus groups, no market research, no user research, no user experience design ... Mr Morita must be a super genius?

  1. He noticed that every time his daughter came back from her Uni/college, she went upstairs first to play her music, then came back down to greet her grandmother.
  2. He noticed in US and European parks and streets many people carrying heavy radios for music. 
  3. He noticed in his own lab rooms engineers listening to loud music, and in another room engineers working on very small radio/music-playing equipments. Does it remind you of Walt Disney, another famous bumble bee good at cross-pollination of ideas? If you were in Morita's place, would you also add one and one and see three or four?
I still have many more stories and many more theories about genius designs. See you.

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