The New York Times has a great summary about recent buzz about one of Googles main designers, Mr. Bowman, leaving his amazing job for a very simple reason. Design was being trumped by data. This is not to say data is wrong or bad, but sometimes data is not how choices should be made.
I’ve had this exact emotion when decisions are made by some sort of point system rather than by a gut reaction from experience. First off, not every data point has equal value, and even if data points are given different weights, it’s just wrong to do this from a design perspective. Emotions can’t be quantified. And every time I tell this to an engineer they ask why not and the answer is exactly what I said, you can’t quantify an instinct, emotion, hence you cant ask me why. I’m sure emotions can be broken down to hundreds of dynamic elements, but to do so would just take to long to process, and data does not factor in reaction and adoption to well.
I’m not sure if it’s something that is taught in design school vs a more technical field, but I’ve experienced so many industries that depend on some point system to make huge decisions which frankly makes me confused. This is not to say that the best choice doesn’t come forth using this methodology, but to make it a means is just not right. When it comes to something say more mechanical, I can understand why since robots are robots, machines are machines, but when it come down to something that deals with a human, it’s an incredibly different field since humans are so different, humans change, evolve, and most importantly we don’t even understand ourselves to determine what we do, understand, like, hate, etc… we are not robots, so don’ try to quantify us like a machine.
I love data, and I’m not saying data does not help drive decisions, but take a step back and remember we as humans process quite a bit of data that can not be explained simply. Be instinctive with decsions and don’t alway look at pie charts, graphs, axis comparisions, numbers, or what the past tells you. Be a human if you are making products for a human. Data can predict pathways, but rarely can they see massive adaptive changes.
Full nytimes article after the jump.