What it means
Everything you use–elegant or homely, awkward or streamlined, intuitive or opaque–was designed. It came to be through messy, iterative, and highly collaborative teamwork where design was just one piece of the puzzle of making it real. What’s the role of a designer in this process? Are you interested in getting into it but aren’t sure whether you’re on the right track? Maybe you’re already designing and getting frustrated because you’re not getting the results you imagined. Maybe techniques that worked on earlier projects aren’t working now.
Designers themselves come from a stunningly diverse range of study, experiences, and backgrounds…and there is no single canon for the blended design that happens today. The products of it are being created faster than can be reflected upon in a comprehensive fashion. That’s the fascinating part: every type of project, every medium, and every user has its own history and canon, and we are coming up with new combinations all the time.
There’s a bewildering breadth of possible skills that could come in handy for designing, and the truth is that no designer has them all. However, in this melting pot of perspectives there are common themes and emergent practices that can be instructive for anyone who creates.
There is plenty of inspiration out there in prototypes, portfolio pieces, and prognostication…and genuinely good instruction about ideal design processes in a variety of contexts. Think of this as a practical companion that points out the possible routes, the bits of truth, and the heroism and folly that shape how things really get made or used.
This is for everyone that feels compelled to see it through…not only make it real, but make it legit.
How it started
I’m Julie Meridian, an experience designer for digital interfaces. It’s a job whose definition is fluid enough that it’s challenging to describe at parties. In practice it blends physical and virtual, analog and digital, ephemeral and everlasting, into a product or service that ultimately gets out into the world and hopefully deserves a spot in our lives.
I believe the most important part of this job is due diligence in both vision and execution, to have the will to see to the creation of things of true value. This isn’t to say that one designer has to do everything…rather that a focus on design only for vision (and assuming that’s enough) or only for execution (focusing only on visual or interactivity polish) results in a weak product that may miss the mark. With Make It Legit I aim to share the techniques that work for both, whether you’re in the middle of it and attempting to work through it the best you can, or whether you’re wondering what experience design can bring to the table.
It’s a field I love, and I’ve been fortunate to work on projects that have given me unique insights into the shifting expectations about design and careers in general. I’m grateful for the insights that users, designers, and product peers have shared with me over the years, and hope that these can also help other designers be successful.