Design as a Craft for Solving Problems

(Originally posted on Noah Teaches Me)

When we think about design, we often think of something visual. That’s for good reasons.

The visual culture is the explicit expression of everything designed. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

But another reason is more important: visualizing thoughts actually helps us think.

That’s why so many techniques and tools are focused on visualizing abstract concepts – mental models, journey maps, LEGO blocks and walls of sticky notes.

Visualizing something changes how we think about it, and it becomes a creative dance between what we think it is and what it could be.

One way to think about design as a craft for solving problems is through three pillars: framing, visualizing, and making.

The three pillars of design as a craft for solving problems

We come up with different ways to frame the problem at hand, and we explore the problem by visualizing those frames.

Once we have some potential frames, we start making things – a sketch, a mockup, a story, etc. We explore the potential solutions by putting those frames into imagined or real contexts and see how that works and feels.

When a proper frame is determined for the problem, we start crafting the solutions, creating the solution by making things, and creating the interface by visualizing the interactive logic of that solution.

In a sense, designing always starts from “drawing it out”.

How do we start drawing?

Fortunately, some people have figured it out:

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