Data-Driven Design Is Killing Our Instincts
Valuing data over design instinct puts metrics over users
Design is no longer subjective. Data rules our world now.
We’re told all design decisions must be validated by user feedback or business success metrics. Analytics are measuring the design effectiveness of every tweak and change we make. If it can’t be proven to work in a prototype, A/B test, or MVP, it’s not worth trying at all.
In this cutthroat world of data-driven design, we’re starting to lose sight of something we once cherished: the designer’s instinct. “Trusting your gut” now means “lazy, entitled designer.” When we can ask users what they want directly, there’s no room for instinct and guesswork.
Or is there?
Overreliance on data to drive design decisions can be just as harmful as ignoring it. Data only tells one kind of story. But your project goals are often more complex than that. Goals can’t always be objectively measured.
If the false god of data overshadows other methods of design decision making, we risk optimizing for easily measurable goals at the expense of totally flunking the more subjective experience.
I’d rather satisfy all the goals. Even if means sometimes ignoring the data.
What is data-driven design?
Simply put, data-driven design means making design decisions based on data you collect about how users interact with your product. According to InVision:
Data-driven design is about using information gleaned from both quantitative and qualitative sources to inform how you make decisions for a set of users.
Some common tools used to collect data include user surveys, A/B testing, site usage and analytics, consumer research, support logs, and discovery calls. By crafting your products in a way that cater to your users’ goals, preferences, and behaviors, it makes your products far more engaging — and successful.
While most data is quantitative and very objective, you can also collect qualitative data about your users’ behavior, feelings, and personal impressions.