“sometimes it’s better to let a dummy take the crash”
(n) An imitation of a real or original object, intended to be used as a practical substitute. (via thefreedictionary.com)
A note for designers:
As designers, it’s often tempting to fall into the trap of thinking our clients are dumb. Most of them are not, they just don’t know our field. As experts, it’s part of our job to explain concepts that we take for granted, but may be new or not that obvious to a client or stakeholder. There are painless and effective ways to do so. This is one of them.
A note for Non-designers:
Interaction design, often abbreviated IxD, is “the practice of designing interactive […] products, environments, systems, and services.” (via wikipedia.org)
The Importance of Interaction Design
“Why do we need to add design hours to this thing? It gets the job done, right?”
Wrong. You can drive a nail with a rock but a hammer will do the same task ten times better. Swinging the handle allows to apply more strength with less effort, less impact on the hand and wrist, its use being more ergonomic in general. The tool is more sturdy, liable to break less, etc.
In other words, a product designed around a good user experience is more likely to outperform one that fulfills the same need but has not been optimized for user interaction.
How it works
Interaction design as a term may not have been in existence for long, but the discipline’s been around since humans have been making stuff. Most people associate it with product design and very few, if any, relate it to digital design. In fact, I’ve found that many clients that get product design or ixd on other areas, often fail to understand the scope of digital design beyond that of cosmetic enhancement.
This is a good way of portraying a very self-explanatory case where thinking through how the product interacts with the consumer or user can give such product a competitive edge over similar other versions.
When to use
Because this is an argument for business, this metaphor will go a long way in trying to convince a skeptic. Use it whenever it becomes clear that your stakeholders or decision-makers find research and design-planning superfluous, but you are convinced it’s going to favorably tip the scales. It’s a natural impulse for clients to believe their vendors are sometimes trying to oversell them on their services. While not exactly believing you are trying to rip them off, a trusting client may at times feel they can get by without investing so much, you’re just trying to be a perfectionist but the business doesn’t really need the “extra bells and whistles.” If this is not the case and the project really needs that extra thinking-through, the hammer and rock metaphor can help win key decision-makers to your side by reminding them how something that works doesn’t necessarily mean something that works well, and a little biIt of extra research, engineering or designing can make all the difference between what merely cuts it and what knocks it clear out o the park.