February 25, 2020

Shallow Design

I’ve been reading and enjoying Deep Work by Cal Newport this week. The concept of deep work is easy to understand for the creative community. Protected time for flow state seems to be a critical process component for high-quality craftsmanship.

The more I sat with this concept I began to question the idea that deep work is something that can be adopted by everyone. In theory, isn’t some shallow work required to keep things moving? As an example, we have to do the work to create complex systems for creating artifacts (deep work) and use those systems to quickly iterate on solutions. (Potentially shallow work.)

It’s common to see designers disengaged when working on seemingly shallow tasks: mocking up a templated email, designing a flow for an obviously simple user task, etc. Tasks obviously critical to the business.

The flaw in my thinking is that while these tasks are seemingly simple in nature, the ability to craft them in a way that retains a high-level quality requires intense focus on the detailed parts of the creative process.

In short: I don’t believe that shallow design exists. Only unfocused design.

Previous post
Shifting Design at Start-Ups As we enter a new era of start-up culture, I’ve started to think about the shift in how we grow as designers in start-up environments. As a
Next post
Remote Friendly Same, but InVision does it better than any other remote team I’ve worked with. It’s so part of the culture, and truly remote-centered (not just