“Design focuses more on the interaction between humans and technologies and enhances comprehension and awareness while using technologies.” (Norman, 2013).
Today, new technology rapidly develops and floods into our daily lives. I believe ‘design’ could play the role in researching and envisioning technology to make it respect our bodily human skills (Angelini, Mugellini, Khaled, & Couture, 2018), attention and ambient awareness (Case, 2012). An internet company - Tencent raised a concept called ‘Tech for Good’ (Tencent, 2019), which resonates with me - always believed that using technology is not the ultimate goal, the goal should be to make human life more involving and enjoyable through using technologies.
Therefore, I have always held the humaneness and benevolence in my heart, which makes me caring and compassionate about others' lives. From another perspective, designers are endowed with the responsibility to convert technology into outcomes that reach those who are not privileged to use technologies and benefit people’s lives.
Design for Transformation
Today, we are in this special era with unprecedented prosperity in connectedness and will continue to be more connected. The impacts between different cultures, different mindsets, different knowledge are generating new undiscovered possibilities for many aspects of our society. It reveals the transformation economic landscape proposed by Brand & Rocchi (2011), where the focus is on meaningful living, empathy and cooperation. This requires putting ourselves in others’ shoes. Designers, who are trained for empathizing with end-users and communicating with stakeholders, could play an important role in this case. (Brand & Rocchi, 2011).
Moreover, the study of design is able to converge with other subjects and generate emerging disciplines of many aspects of human lives. Through cooperating with psychologists, biologists, environmentalists, and engineers, designers combine multi-disciplinary knowledge that has never been combined before in design activities. This allows designers to not only design better products, but also to reach a broader social impact.
Design for Experience
I guess this could be a mere splendid commonplace for every designer, including me. Since the societal focus shift from efficiency to hedonic personal lifestyle in the 1960s, 'design' was much influence and shift focus to user experience. I consider that rich and enjoyable user experience is still the main contribution of ‘design’, only nowadays with more advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence, big data, additional manufacturing, etc. People are able to extend their sensations and they are able to experience differently. And designers are equipped with new design tools that have never been used before.
In this matter, Marc Hassenzhal, as one of my favorite designers and researchers, inspired me about how designers distinguish ourselves from engineers. We always maintain the compassion and sensitivity to put user experience before functionality, to create some meaningful and delightful moments in people’s life. While it does not refer to designers are superior in determining the right user experience, the key ability of designers is involving users and facilitating the design process towards a better user experience.
Design as Mindset
Designers are non-linear thinkers and practitioners, who possess a changing perspective and can identify potentially significant yet less explored aspects. This thinking ability has already penetrated into society in many aspects, such as be used in business model development.
My internship experience in consulting company Accenture shows the potential and value of design thinking in the business world and the whole industry. Designers play the role as facilitators in integrating technology, business and stakeholders.
As I see the influence of ‘design’ in macro levels, I believe ‘design’ is a trendy mindset, philosophy, belief that the society needs for innovative development. Nowadays, as knowledge and all kinds of resources are more accessible to individuals, people have the freedom and responsibility to lead their own meaningful living and express their creative thinking. In this context of open innovation, a dynamic and non-linear mindset is important for everyone in this society to push the world forward. Therefore, I believe the ‘design education’ is significant for both individuals and the society in the future.