This post was originally posted on the Adaptive Path blog.
I have the good fortune of having a number of industrial designers as friends. As is the case with most people in the creative field, we have spent a considerable amount of time discussing our work. Throughout our conversations, there have been two tracks of thinking that impressed me. The first was a commitment to craft and an understanding of its importance to the final product's quality. The second was a sense of pragmatism and, for lack of a better word, accountability for how the design would impact the final product. I loved to hear designers take execution into account during the creative process due to the fact that I was someone who was often responsible for creating the final product. What struck me the most during our conversations was the deep familiarity my industrial design colleagues had with the materials used in the design. One friend in particular explained the necessity of understanding the materials, because without that knowledge, it would prove challenging to understand if the materials were appropriate to use in the first place. Strangely, that consideration for materials has traditionally been absent from design in the digital world. In my experience, designers have often expressed the sentiment that getting mired down in the details of technology would only limit the creative process. Unfortunately, the lack of understanding in craft would often lead to irreparable problems with the final product. Designers of digital products need to have that same dedication to craft as those in other design disciplines. That dedication to craft begins with an understanding of the methods and materials used in their trade.