I spoke today to a group of people associated with Webstock. Instead of a pre-prepared presentation, I told them ahead of time about my experiences and took questions up front and from the floor.
But this post isn’t about the actual talk I did, but about something I find incredibly hard to do – give straight-up, black & white answers. I know that people would really, really like me to give them a straight answer, without once saying ‘it depends’ (actually, I usually say ‘context is really important there’ which is just as bad as ‘it depends’).
This happens in part because the world is complex, and designing for a complex world is hard. It is difficult to know everything needed, and most projects don’t allow the time to do the necessary learning (whether skilling up, background research or user research). So most people, most of the time, are trying to solve problems without the right toolset. This naturally leads to a desire for some easy answers.
The problem is compounded by the type of writing that comes from a number of high profile ‘gurus’. They make everything appear black and white. People grasp at these neat answers and believe them, because it is far easier than thinking through all the complexity.
But the more projects I do, the more I realise neat black & white answers don’t fit any sort of real world, which means I end up talking more about the context, and feeling like I’m disappointing people and being vague. Oh well, at least I try to explain what ‘it depends’ on, or what the implications are for different contexts.