Written in collaboration with Scott McMann

Best practice – noun – commercial or professional procedures that are accepted or prescribed as being correct or most effective. See also: wikipedia


As an observer in a design presentation meeting recently I was witness to the use of a phrase that made me question what those two words really mean.

“Best Practices”

Best practices is a great term when used to describe a process or set of procedures. If the world of ideas was based on best practices we would still be sitting on rocks (instead of chairs), we’d be parking our horses outside our homes (sorry, huts), and women would not be voting. I think you get the drift.

Here’s how that term sounds when used to defend design ideas — lazy. Design needs to be taken seriously. Solutions are born out of research and exploration, experimentation and appropriateness. Design, though highly strategic in nature, sometimes cannot be boiled down into just a series of actions and processes. Given the right conditions and the appropriate grounding research, design can emerge from strict methodologies and flourish into creative brilliance. Which ultimately means better experiences for people.

How’s that for best practices?


Many of today’s mainstream approaches to product or service design borrow from the “new” and “innovative” ideas that originate from a peripheral edge of the design world. Terms like collaboration, iteration, and innovation are all now commonly used buzzwords that can often be thrown around bordering on jargon and, in some cases, just plain silliness. 

This series on Buzzwords will shed light on what certain terms and phrases mean from a designer’s point of view and aims to help build stronger designer-client relationships everywhere.

Check out our previous posts:

Buzzwords – The ‘Aha’ Moment
Buzzwords – What is Collaboration?
Buzzwords – “Fail often so you can succeed sooner”

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