Drivers & Putters

by Luke Wroblewski September 11, 2006

Just in case you missed it, take a few minutes to read Jim Leftwich’s discussion of drivers and putters in Design Futures Part 4:

“[Driving is] necessary to drive far from current feature-bloated or tired models and make bold innovative leaps. Driving is crucial to establish new fields from which specific embodiments can emerge, and I maintain that the evidence and record does not support that user research and usability testing and the kinds of models and procedures we hear propounded most often are all that successful in making fast, bold, and successful drives forward.
[Putting is] most successful at getting the ball from somewhere on the green into the cup. I maintain that "putting" encompasses the activities, theories, and practices of the majority of designers and usability professionals, and are crucial to zeroing in on specific target usages and refine specific interaction models. But both [driving and putting] are absolutely necessary, and both need to be acknowledged.”

Drivers and Putters map nicely to the Strategic & Product Design roles I described a while back.

“[Strategic Designers] are tremendously adept at visualizing a complete product experience and how it maps to business and user goals. These designers are invaluable during the early stages of product ideation. They help focus product strategy and give teams a vision to drive toward.
[Product] designers excel in the ability to get recurring product updates (that drive toward a long-term goal) out the door quickly and efficiently. They have a passion for a particular product and quickly become domain experts in that product area.”

Strategic Designers are great drivers. Product Designers excel at getting the ball into the cup.