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Rethinking Application Design (07 Nov 2005)
Too often, key people don't understand their roles or the design process, or what ultimately constitutes quality user experiences. These issues are particularly glaring since much of the work being done in Silicon Valley is application design, not 'just' Web design.

What's the difference? Application design helps users carry out tasks, and can be as simple as Google's search function or as powerful and complex as Photoshop. Web design is the design of a strictly informational or marketing Web experience that employs a fairly straightforward interaction model. Many of us who came into the industry through the Web do not fully appreciate this distinction or properly recognize the complexity of application design. This makes it all the more surprising that so many technology companies are not taking an effective approach to designing their UI. Their various problems are so clear to the experienced eye. Why do they persist?

Over and under staffed UI teams are behind this conundrum. There is no standard process for designing an application, so ineffective methods and structures live on. And not everyone with the same title has the same background and skill-set. This can make staffing a design team like playing Russian roulette: portfolios and case studies might look great, but it usually takes working with someone to truly appreciate where their areas of expertise begin and end.
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