Designers should be encouraged to explore, not suppressed

I love reading ideas and insights from fellow members of the design community. It keeps me on my toes and helps me to develop my own skills. Collective intelligence, after all, has always been the key to human success.

However, there is a growing trend in design and UX publications which is to present statements as fact and suggest certain design styles are wrong.

There is an example of this bouncing around at the moment called “Floating labels are a bad idea”. (it was quickly re-named to “Floating labels are problematic” after it gained criticism)

The article provided no research to back up its claims. It is opinion presented as fact. It also seemed to be nothing more than an attack on anyone who has ever used floating labels in their designs.

I understand that making statements about something you feel strongly about is easy to do. I have certainly been guilty of it myself, but I am trying to change. The reason being is that this kind of article may stop young designers feeling comfortable experimenting. 

Experience makes us better designers but does not give us the authority to categorically tell other designers that they are wrong. Instead we should present our opinions by way of suggestion with case by case examples. This provides great expertise while still leaving it up to interpretation.

The floating labels article was beautifully contested by the (possible) creator of the very first floating label concept, Matt Smith. His response was full of examples and success stories where this design solution had been the most appropriate choice. Matt, I salute you.


Posted by

Todd Padwick