Note

How giant websites design for billion people

2 minute read

“It’s hard in part because it requires a combination of two things, audacity and humility — audacity to believe that the thing that you’re making is something that the entire world wants and needs, and humility to understand that as a designer, it’s not about you or your portfolio, it’s about the people that you’re designing for, and how your work just might help them live better lives.”
Margaret Gould Stewart (2014) How giant websites design for you

This is an excellent talk, full of insights and examples. She has a balanced way to speak, bridging the design side of things with a more common language.

She mentions four main principles in the talk:

  1. “The little things really matters”
  2. Design with data” – “It’s not just as simple as following the numbers”
  3. “When you introduce change, do it extraordinarily carefully”
  4. “You have to understand who you are designing for” – “People care”

Which… none of these is in a sense new. These are topics widely discussed all around the design circles for years. However, she tells these points with a great deal of insight, excellent examples, and these four are well picked: these are not just best practices, but they are the ones that stand out more when you design at scale.

There are also two quotes I’d like to highlight:

“[Designing at scale] is hard in part because it requires a combination of two things, audacity and humility — audacity to believe that the thing that you’re making is something that the entire world wants and needs, and humility to understand that as a designer, it’s not about you or your portfolio, it’s about the people that you’re designing for, and how your work just might help them live better lives.”

“So as you can see, these decisions are highly nuanced. Of course we use a lot of data to inform our decisions, but we also rely very heavily on iteration, research, testing, intuition, human empathy. It’s both art and science. Now, sometimes the designers who work on these products are called “data-driven,” which is a term that totally drives us bonkers. The fact is, it would be irresponsible of us not to rigorously test our designs when so many people are counting on us to get it right, but data analytics will never be a substitute for design intuition. Data can help you make a good design great, but it will never made a bad design good.

Definitely an excellent and rich talk in just 13 minutes.

Via Nilofer Merchant.