Chad Schneider

Born with questions

01.26.2010 by Chad Schneider

Asking The Right QuestionsDesigning a product requires thinking about all of the various problems that could arise and heading them off.

  • How can this be cleaned?
  • Is it going to be dropped?
  • What if someone sticks a finger in here?

As an engineer, it’s a good skill to have. But, is asking the right questions something that can be taught, or do you have to be born with this twisted skill?

If you’ve spent any time around young kids, you know that asking questions comes naturally. At that stage, “Why?” is one of the most common words in our vocabulary. We’re born with so many questions, and every answer simply creates more questions.

At some point, though, we have to refine this line of questioning, if only to get to sleep. Experience and intuition can help determine which answers are productive and which are just interesting. Draw the line. Give users some amount of responsibility, some amount of credit to their intelligence, and create some limit to the amount of abuse a product can take. Otherwise, the next handheld medical device will have a steel shell, cost ten times as much as it should, and take twice as long to get out the door.

Photo credit: arte_ram

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