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PROSPECTING FOR PAIN

There’s a scene in Objectified in which a team of industrial designers is shown designing garden shears. Two or three New York MFA-types stand around a conference table discussing a prototype: where on the hand the shears will create friction, whether the grip is comfortable enough, whether the angle of the shears is correct and so on. That the delicate hands of an industrial designer are different from the callused hands of the average landscaper doesn’t seem to occur to them. Between them, they form a consensus and a new prototype is drawn up.
 This is often about as thorough as design research gets. It’s no surprise then that most people end up skipping the research phase entirely. “Vision” is channeled, as is the maxim, “we only make products for ourselves.” This is one of the reasons why so many products fail to resonate. They’re created with a hypothetical customer or with no customer at all. Designers, developers and product managers are often shielded by their clients from the realities of the market. In fact, it’s possible to have a fairly successful career without having to experience any real market pressure at all. As a result, many end up engaging in product development for its own sake. If you’re reading this, you’re likely one of those people. I was too. It took quitting my job, founding my own company, and getting knocked around a bunch to finally find myself in alignment with the demands of real people. I’m still working on it. While my products pay the rent, I draw a salary that is less than the average Creative Director. But I also work less. And that’s great.

PROSPECTING FOR PAIN

There’s a scene in Objectified in which a team of industrial designers is shown designing garden shears. Two or three New York MFA-types stand around a conference table discussing a prototype: where on the hand the shears will create friction, whether the grip is comfortable enough, whether the angle of the shears is correct and so on. That the delicate hands of an industrial designer are different from the callused hands of the average landscaper doesn’t seem to occur to them. Between them, they form a consensus and a new prototype is drawn up.
 This is often about as thorough as design research gets. It’s no surprise then that most people end up skipping the research phase entirely. “Vision” is channeled, as is the maxim, “we only make products for ourselves.” This is one of the reasons why so many products fail to resonate. They’re created with a hypothetical customer or with no customer at all. Designers, developers and product managers are often shielded by their clients from the realities of the market. In fact, it’s possible to have a fairly successful career without having to experience any real market pressure at all. As a result, many end up engaging in product development for its own sake. If you’re reading this, you’re likely one of those people. I was too. It took quitting my job, founding my own company, and getting knocked around a bunch to finally find myself in alignment with the demands of real people. I’m still working on it. While my products pay the rent, I draw a salary that is less than the average Creative Director. But I also work less. And that’s great.

PROSPECTING FOR PAIN

There’s a scene in Objectified in which a team of industrial designers is shown designing garden shears. Two or three New York MFA-types stand around a conference table discussing a prototype: where on the hand the shears will create friction, whether the grip is comfortable enough, whether the angle of the shears is correct and so on. That the delicate hands of an industrial designer are different from the callused hands of the average landscaper doesn’t seem to occur to them. Between them, they form a consensus and a new prototype is drawn up.
 This is often about as thorough as design research gets. It’s no surprise then that most people end up skipping the research phase entirely. “Vision” is channeled, as is the maxim, “we only make products for ourselves.” This is one of the reasons why so many products fail to resonate. They’re created with a hypothetical customer or with no customer at all. Designers, developers and product managers are often shielded by their clients from the realities of the market. In fact, it’s possible to have a fairly successful career without having to experience any real market pressure at all. As a result, many end up engaging in product development for its own sake. If you’re reading this, you’re likely one of those people. I was too. It took quitting my job, founding my own company, and getting knocked around a bunch to finally find myself in alignment with the demands of real people. I’m still working on it. While my products pay the rent, I draw a salary that is less than the average Creative Director. But I also work less. And that’s great.