Designer tells startups how design works

Interaction designer Wells Riley has created 'Startups, this is how design works' , a guide for non-designers about the principles behind design and the importance of having design direction within startups.

Riley told .net that the site was built for his BFA thesis and drew on his passion for design and interest in startups, along with him noticing how many companies don't understand design: "I used to be a product and branding design consultant for startups here in Boston, and it amazed me how many companies had only a basic understanding of design, and how often this ended up hurting their businesses. There are loads of startups and great designers out there. If I could get entrepreneurs to understand the history, value and basic vocabulary of design, maybe I could get the two disciplines to work together more easily."

We asked if Riley thought there was a general misunderstanding within the tech industry about design's value and what it involves – something we've previously debated. "It depends. I think the hardest thing for some people to understand is that design is about so much more than aesthetics. When people think of design as 'making it look pretty' or 'pushing pixels', it devalues the industry tremendously," he said, stating that this causes people to not think of design as a technical profession, but as "arbitrary and purely artistic". He noted that a lot of product design happens before and after aesthetics, and design can be analytical. "Aesthetics are just one tool in the designer's toolbox," he added. "It would be like calling a senior software engineer a 'code monkey' – there's a lot more to software development than indenting brackets!"

Because of the complexity behind design, beyond aesthetics, Riley told us that it's increasingly important for startups to recognise that they need design input: "Design is becoming impossible for startups to not take seriously. Large corporations can spend millions on product and graphic design any time they want to, and the latest wave of 'hot startups' out of the Valley and NYC either have designer founders, or hold design in the highest regard. I think the demand for designers in startups is higher than ever and I expect to see that trend increase exponentially."

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

The Creative Bloq team is made up of a group of design fans, and has changed and evolved since Creative Bloq began back in 2012. The current website team consists of eight full-time members of staff: Editor Georgia Coggan, Deputy Editor Rosie Hilder, Deals Editor Beren Neale, Senior News Editor Daniel Piper, Digital Arts and Design Editor Ian Dean, Tech Reviews Editor Erlingur Einarsson and Ecommerce Writer Beth Nicholls and Staff Writer Natalie Fear, as well as a roster of freelancers from around the world. The 3D World and ImagineFX magazine teams also pitch in, ensuring that content from 3D World and ImagineFX is represented on Creative Bloq.