Designers should be encouraged to explore

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I love reading ideas and insights, tips and tricks from fellow members of the design community. It keeps me on my toes, acts as a source of inspiration when I least expect it, and helps me to develop my own skills. Collective intelligence, after all, has always been the key to human success.

However, I've noticed a growing trend in design and UX publications 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 should be noted that this was quickly renamed to “Floating labels are problematic” after it gained widespread criticism).

The article provided no research to back up its claims. It was nothing more than a strongly held opinion presented as fact and designed to attack anyone who has ever used floating labels in their designs.

I understand that making negative 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? I believe this kind of article may stop young designers feeling comfortable experimenting.

Experience makes us better designers but it still doesn't, nor should it ever, give us the authority to categorically tell other designers that they are wrong. Instead, I think we should work to present opinions by way of suggestion with case by case examples. Tangible blueprints of what we mean, that leave interpretation up to the individual.

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. An amazing example for those of us who want to encourage creative freedom, not squash it.

Matt, I salute you.