Design, not user-testing, will challenge convention

Regarding Anna Richardson’s article Modern Hieroglyphics (DW 6 August), Gary Davis says, with reference to making symbols recognisable and conforming to an established standard, ‘But who makes that judgement? Not the designer, that’s for sure.’ (Letters, DW 20 August).

This is a dangerous and possibly insulting statement, as it completely belittles our work and professionalism. It is designers, not only in the graphic field, but also in products, architecture and so on, who break with the ‘agreed and tested norm’ to improve on that norm and be more inclusive.

While user-testing is very valuable it cannot be taken as the yardstick for innovation and improvement. It must also be recognised that, with each new generation, tastes – and perceptions of what is recognisable – change.

It is designers who are the most capable of making such judgements, because in the course of their education they have studied art, design and engineering history, and they will, during their practice, apply research and user-testing.

To hand over the decisionmaking to user-testers and International Organization for Standardization practitioners will give us the blandest resultspossible, targeted at the lowest common denominator. Only the creativity andprofessionalism of the designer
ensures that, as a society, we move forward with improved and original products and thoughts that stimulate discussion.
Bruno Maag, Managing director, Dalton Maag, London SW9

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