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It depends

Every designer everywhere?

As a designer, I very rarely say ‘it depends’.

I would rather have an opinion, then be right or wrong.

‘It depends’ suggests there’s too much context surrounding what you’re thinking about. It’s better to frame something more carefully so you can decide and move on.

Framing means finding a way to focus on what’s most important. It’s drawing a line around something while recognising your own limitations to fully understand the size and complexity of most subject matters.

We frame pictures to look at them. We frame problems as a way of understanding them.

Design is about making decisions. Or, as I like to say, it’s putting sticks in the ground.

As a process, this is like thinking and feeling in colour but then being prepared to decide in black and white.

‘It depends’ is a passive voice. It feels like a state of inaction.

Yes or no is an active voice. It’s an opinion. Even when ‘no’ is a deliberate decision to do nothing.

Making decisions is how you change the world around you, especially when no one else is prepared to put forward an answer.

Footnote: This post was inspired by this tweet and quote I saw last night from a talk by Kate Rutter. For what it’s worth this is probably a true statement, so don’t be like most designers.

This blog post is also published on Medium.

Ben Holliday is an experienced design leader, writer and speaker. This is his blog (started in 2005). You can follow all of Ben's blog posts by subscribing to the RSS feed, or follow him on Twitter for more regular updates.