Jared Spool has a good interview with the Cooper GM, Kim Goodwin, on Excelling at Interaction Design. More specifically, they talk about what traits distinguish good designers from great ones. Catching my attention was one that can be so easily overlooked: active listening.
She urges designers to listen for the needs behind what’s being articulated by the client. For example, there can be this easy tendency to solve every problem by just saying, hey, let’s make it web-based.
Client: This ____ [solution] has to be web-based.
Designer: Why? What actually is the problem that you’re aiming to solve?.
A good designer uses active listening to encourage the client to think more openly and creatively about their problem and probes them with questions as to why they think specifically that a web-based solution would be the best response to their problem. Are there options outside of the web that would better address the unique characteristics of the design problem? Maybe a hybrid between the web and something else? This almost involuntary, uncritical inclination to see all solutions as web-based reminds me somewhat of the early days of instructional technology where overenthusiastic techie-teachers might inadvertently allow the technology to overrun the pedagogy.