Designer Is Not A Profession

Design is a wonderful thing. It’s an integral part of how we work to shape the world around us.

But it is not a discrete profession or occupation.

We are not divided into designers and people who are not designers.

If someone says you don’t have the right background, you haven’t spoken to or listened to the right people, or you don’t have the appropriate skills or experience to be a designer? They are wrong.

If someone says particular skills — creative, discursive, technical — preclude you from being a designer and put you in a category outside of design? They are wrong.

Design is not in the mastery of any particular medium, skill, piece of software, style, or philosophy.

Websites, boats, guns, hats, buildings, events, fonts, and data schemas can all be designed or not designed. But it isn’t in hiring a designer that the crucial difference is made.

All design consultants can do is encourage you to design. And you should know enough to be doing it already.

Designing is deliberating; reasoning; justifying. It is joining up the dots.

Designing is what we’re doing when we’re not doing. It’s deciding what’s right to do, what the best way to do it is, for who, by who, for how long, and with what. Context, relationships, implications.

If you don’t do any of this, your work will be horrendous. If you hire someone else to do it for you, it will not be saved. You cannot add design.

If you care to think about your work as you work, then you are a designer.

Everything else — Javascript, Microsoft Excel, a pencil, Adobe Illustrator, a soldering iron, a coffee machine, MySQL, a pair of knitting needles — is a tool.

Designers cannot be identified by their tools because anything can be a designer’s tool.

That is, so long as it’s the right tool for the job.