In Defense of Defensive Designers

Why Designers Especially Value Humility

From my experience, it’s critical for designers to receive and incorporate feedback well. Good designers listen more than they speak, and don’t get attached to their first draft of a design. Great designers go out of their way to get feedback. They know the first draft is never right. They know their work needs the input of other designers and iterations before it’s going to be good enough to present to a client.

Designers don’t like defensiveness when we’re discovering or developing. However, it’s the right state of mind when we’re defining and delivering.

Design Process is Law and Order

Maybe it’s because I love true crime content, but I think this analogy works nonetheless. When a crime is being explored, we need detectives. When someone is being charged, we need a prosecutor.

True detectives follow the leads until something clicks.
Prosecutors sell the evidence

The Solution

I think designers are so alert to the red flag of defensiveness within a team that we might be unfairly evaluating candidates from time to time. When we ask candidates to come in and present projects to us, we should be asking ourselves if the candidate is merely being defensive, or presenting their work as if we’re a client.



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Tait Wayland

Tait Wayland


Product Designer and Technologist. Interested in the intersection of data science, AI, and user experience.