July 15, 2006

Is the U.S. Behind in Design?

Kathy Sierra posts about Does the US suck at design? The Difference Between the US and Switzerland on her Creating Passionate Users site. Kathy has great examples and the comments (like many many sites) hold many great gems (I posted there, but take time to read the other comments).

This subject is one that I have been thinking about a lot over the past couple years as I have been traveling for work and conference to Europe, Canada, and around the U.S. There are distinct differences between the countries and cultures. I have not been sure if the U.S. is just too familiar to me, which makes those things that are different more attractive, or if it is just much better design that is really making a difference.

The breadth of design understanding in the U.S. seems narrower than in Europe. I normally have great conversations about design and developing products for use by people while I am in Europe, but in the U.S. the discussion is more on the process or tools than the end result.

Yes, I understand this is largely generalizations and there are some great designers in the U.S. and some great products. I have been trying to sort through the seeming proportion of well designed products and environments between the different cultures. The general understanding of design in the role it plays in business and product success broader in Europe (or it could be an extremely skewed population that I interact with in Europe at conferences, on transportation, in cafes, etc. The experience really has my deeply enjoying the work I do in Europe, I enjoy the work in the U.S. as well, but in the U.S. I am more selective.

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