IxD Through Mixology, Chapter 3 Iterate Iterate Iterate

At the end of May I presented at MidwestUX in Columbus, Ohio on Interaction Design Through Mixology, and how our careers mirrors a hobby of mine. I’ve gone into detail on Education and Process. Now let’s focus on iteration.

In Mixology

Iteration is key in mixology. Even before starting this personal journey I mixed my own cocktails. By that I mean I mixed gin and tonics, rum and cokes, and I had a jungle juice recipe that landed you flat on your ass. How hard could it be to create some custom cocktails?

I should have eaten my words then and there. All drinks, all recipes, all skills require practice, they require iteration. In mixology I relearned the hard way the value of testing my experiments in small batches. The value of failure and that ‘each hurt is a lesson’ as Arya Stark would say.

In Design

It is the same lesson in design. Timelines are tight and the value of iterating and pursuing multiple paths is often overlooked. While design education teaches the value of iterating and failing, practicing designers are faced with budget and time constraints. Designers are confronted with the expectation to be right every time and to have the best solution.

So What?

There is no replacement for iteration. There is no replacement for failure. This is true in mixology and design. When bartending, a new recipe isn’t immediately thought up and served en masse to the crowds. It’s tested. And in the process discoveries are made – both those improving the drink and those which are noted as decisions to avoid. The true is same in design. Designs that fail don’t waste time, they fail and lead to stronger solutions. The old saying that you have to crack a few eggs to make an omelette is true, especially in design where every path might not be the ideal solution but everything has merit and informs the next iteration.

Remember to iterate, remember to pursue multiple possible solutions. And learn from those that don’t succeed. Simply throwing them away is not enough but evaluate and critique them as if they were the solution, discuss what can be improved on and why a design succeeded or failed. It is only through this recursive process progress is made.

What are your thoughts on the topic? Please share below or reach out to me on twitter @dafark8. My next entry in the series will be on Validation.

Update January 7, 2013 An article was brought to my attention about “The dirty little secret in our industry. The best designers rarely have more talent. They simply have more time”. As this relates to the need to iterate, we need to realize the overal environment and support each other’s efforts as well as our clients needs as well as the financial goals. Read the full article.

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