25 Bad Habits of Industrial Designers

File under:
Design Articles

Written by Brian Ling (Design Sojourn)
Dec 26, 2007


Image: Thumbs Down by CraigPJ

About time I got to this one and I though it makes a great post to face the year end with!

I also hope to keep this as a living document that gets constantly updated (with additional input from all my readers), and a good reference guide for industrial designers that want to learn to rule the world!

1) Looking at other products for inspiration.

2) Not creating or studying the design brief.

3) Not checking if the concept fulfils the design brief.

4) Spending too much time on the computer.

5) Not improving their sketch communication skills.

6) Not improving their verbal communication skills.

7) Not making a concept model because they were lazy or not wanting to get dirty.

8) Coming to work late.

9) Not understanding that a design is not theirs but the company’s.

10) Getting too emotionally involved in their designs.

11) Not being friends with Engineering.

12) Forgetting to compromise.

13) Not being friends with Marketing.

14) Mistaking arrogance for confidence.

15) Forgetting Industrial Design requires multi-disciplinary skills.

16) Being disorganized in mind and/or space.

17) Poor Time management.

18) Not planning a 3D construction process before doing 3D modelling.

19) Designing in a 3D program.

20) Forgetting to document their work.

21) Forgetting that there are costs impacts to design decisions.

22) Not including draft angles and part lines in 3D models or design files.

23) Forgetting to save work or worst deleting it by accident.

24) Not thinking through a design to the very end and it gets ripped to shreds.

25) Forgetting that a presentation board is also a design element.

Edit: User submitted content!

26) Over satisfied with the first design. (by Design Monkey)

27) Sketching the same design over and over again. (by Design Monkey)

28) Making things that can be produced instead of creating “insanely” great products. (by Idris Mootee)

29) Forgetting the goal of design is to improve not just make something different. (by Dave Pinter)

30) Being apathetic to sustainable and green design. (by Dave Pinter)

The following four are by Raghuraj Ananthoj with some editing on my part.

31) Not understanding if the form inspiration is appropriate to the form being created.

32) Failing to understand the brand philosophy of the company.

33) Not building a good relationship between fellow designers by sharing knowledge and work.

34) Avoiding critics, which can help improve the current design and other product features.

Love this post? Subscribe to The Design Sojourn Newsletter, for free, and get the latest content delivered right to your inbox with our 110% NO-SPAM Policy!

You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook as well.

Related Posts You Might Find Interesting:


Design Monkey
Dec 26, 07 – 5:46 pm

bad habits of ID No. 26: Over satisfied with the first design.
No. 27: Sketching the same design over and over again.

Nice article you have DT! Happy New year!

Dec 26, 07 – 7:43 pm

Hi Design Monkey,

Thanks that is fantastic! Thanks!

Idris Mootee
Jan 02, 08 – 1:15 am

The wosrse habit of all is when an Industrial Designer stops thinking that his/her mission is to create “insanely” great products rather than makign things that will be produced.
This is a great blog.

Jan 02, 08 – 7:39 am

Hi Idris,

Thanks for your comment and for visiting. I myself enjoy visiting your blog.

interaction design
Jan 04, 08 – 12:29 am

Sweet list, could be a ‘don’t do list’ in each industrial design studio! Thanks for your post!


michael von klein
Jan 07, 08 – 3:34 am

Thanks! very helpful for all designers ! I publish it im my studio !!

Jan 07, 08 – 4:21 am

I’m guilty of most of those! New Year resolution time!

Jan 07, 08 – 7:51 am

Hi guys,

Thanks for the great comments, I hope the list can help and perhaps be a little tongue in cheek as well! Please do post it on your websites/blogs if you have any.

Please keep do in touch?

Andrew Reynolds
Jan 07, 08 – 11:16 am

This will help lots of industrial designers realize
the bad habits that they are doing. But then, not all of the designers are like that. I have lots of friends who are designers and they’ve been doing great job! :)

Jan 12, 08 – 7:27 pm

Hi Andrew,
Thanks for your comments and please keep in touch.

Dave Pinter
Jan 13, 08 – 12:03 am

Two more overlooked points:

Forgetting the goal of design is to improve not just make something different.

Being apathetic to sustainable and green design.

Jan 15, 08 – 7:48 am

Hi Dave,

Thanks for dropping by and leaving your wonderful comments. I will add them to the growing list. Please keep in touch.

Jan 18, 08 – 7:54 pm

Your all full of contradictions! You seem more committed to corporate lackeys than anything else. Record keeping, time management, inter-departmental communication? Where all still adults here, right? Besides, I don’t think “Design,” or even “Art,” works a nine-to-five to satisfy any of this.

For example:

28) Making things that can be produced instead of creating

Jan 18, 08 – 9:59 pm

Hi David,

Thanks for your comments. I think you might have misunderstand the intention of this post. It is meant as a list of 25 possible bad habits industrial designers may or may not have. Also this list does not signify that there is one designer with all of the above habits. More often than not it is a mix and match of different habits that a designer has.

However I would like to address thepoints that you highlighted:

You seem more committed to corporate lackeys than anything else. Record keeping, time management, inter-departmental communication? Where all still adults here, right? Besides, I don

Mohammad T. Tayeb
Mar 05, 08 – 1:43 am

I agree with all the above…

accessible website design
Apr 15, 08 – 12:44 am

I have to constantly remind myself of 9,10, and 12.

Its hard though since we put so much time into our designs. You can’t help but feel attached.

H-ART Pink Maniacs
Apr 23, 08 – 4:49 pm

[…] designsojourn.com , a nice design blog with a lot of interest articles) 1) Looking at other products for […]

Raghuraj Ananthoj
Apr 29, 08 – 7:03 pm


This is really a good article to publish, the matter of fact I wouldn’t call all of them bad. However few of them are really important to be noted as bad habits and often it has been that I have found and spoke to designers about their creation of artefacts but alot them fail to understand few things and I would like to add few more points,which are the following…

1. Not understanding the form- styling clues derived or inspirations incubated in the design are appropriate to their form creation.

2. Failing to understand the brand philosophy of the company, which is not cited in the product.

3. Not sharing the knowledge and work with fellow designers, which fails to build a good relationship between them.

4. Avoiding critics, which are important to understand and improve the current design and other product features.

Overall i feel that the list would continue…good work DT.

R> Hodges
Jul 12, 08 – 3:04 am

I have experienced 9 & 10, not good !!!
You Don’t know it’s a mistake til you make it…
Great site and Thanks

Jul 14, 08 – 5:40 pm

Hi all,

Thanks for the feedback. I’ve updated the list to include the 4 suggested by Raghuraj.

Sep 01, 08 – 9:17 am

Yes, well, some of these bad habits are what make us designers. I would agree more with

“This whole list comes down to just one rule:

12) Forgetting to compromise.”

Well said.

Sep 12, 08 – 11:47 am

[…] Design Sojourn published a list of 25 bad habits of industrial designers: 1) Looking at other products for inspiration. […]

Oct 03, 08 – 11:06 pm

I liked your post and it’s cousin, 7 Habits of Highly Effective Designers. However, this laundry list ended up coming off as a bit of a downer. You inspired me to write Five Great Qualities of Industrial Designers as a pick me up. Let me know what you think!


Dec 15, 08 – 5:37 am


I was curious to know if you could elaborate more about your list topper:

1) Looking at other products for inspiration.

Also, does this encompass the products which are evaluated to inform one’s self about the pros and cons of the current competitive landscape?

Dec 18, 08 – 12:12 am

Hi Rogue,

That is a great question, and I will be reproducing my answer in a post. Do stay tuned.

[…] Sojourn’s readers left a question in the

[…] Sojourn’s readers left a question in the

Dec 30, 08 – 5:37 am

Nice article. I have a couple more:
* document concept, communicate concept
* effective user-centered research is fundamental to good design.

Mar 26, 09 – 12:19 am

thanks, this will really help me with my new starting career

Andrew Keir
Jul 09, 09 – 1:42 pm

35) for me would be putting too much time into an idea, then pursuing it because of the time investment when i knew i should have given it up.

Sep 29, 09 – 3:59 am

8) Coming to work late. :P my sin…

Sep 29, 09 – 4:00 am

The sin of various of us

Oct 14, 09 – 11:10 pm

There’re a lot more, but the list is fundamental.

Feb 02, 10 – 6:52 am

Does 28 and 29 appear to be in contradiction or is it just my wrong understanding?
This list is not so easy to follow for a beginner, but still very useful reminder.Thank you for sharing.

Scott Graham
Sep 20, 10 – 12:57 am

I often re-remind myself that industrial design is sculptural and that anything I make will not only be ultimately uber-useful but allegorical, fun, clever, beautiful ….. and to let that process flow through me.

That, and placing too many steps between the user and the end goal. Straightforward, I say!


Rob Curedale
Nov 26, 10 – 5:04 am

Some comments on the list

1) Looking at other products for inspiration.

I think that it is necessary to look at other products as part of the process of designing a better product. If you don’t do this your product may not be as good as products already in the market. What is not useful is if you copy those products. Issaac Newton wrote that he was successful because he stood on the shoulders of other that had gone before him. If you design something then it should aime to be better than what exists but if you don’t look at what exists then it probably won’t be because some of those things may have been designed with more time and resources than you have available.

4) Spending too much time on the computer.

The designer should spend time talking and observing people using the product in the context of use.

10) Getting too emotionally involved in their designs.
A designer should be passionate but should not let their passion overcome their judgment and should be willing to change a design if it is a way of improving it.

16) Being disorganized in mind and/or space.

This is a characteristic of right-brain or creative thinkers.

19) Designing in a 3D program.

This depends on what part of the design process is being discussed

28) Making things that can be produced instead of creating “insanely” great products. (by Idris Mootee)

If a design can’t be produced it is not an insanely great design. Design is about making ideas real.

Brian Ward
Nov 29, 10 – 3:48 pm

I think that many designers design for the advertising photo-shoot/ rendering, and not for the end user/ client. If all points are nailed- that is when one has an “insanely great” product.

Sabir Ahmed
Dec 07, 10 – 12:24 pm

Thanks for your interesting post. The list is definitely spot on. I thought of adding one more point that does not seem to get covered, namely:

Forgetting to check expectations from end users before embarking on the design. or Not doing a basic user market survey.

Cyan Godfrey
Dec 28, 10 – 10:18 pm

Rob, I like your comments on the list.
A mistake I’ve seen in the past is to assign too much of a project’s time to presentation, especially if the budget is tight and time is minimal. I don’t like to see a designer start working on presenting an idea if it’s not a good one – it’s more important to spend that time improving the concept or coming up with something better, than to be ready for the client meeting with a great presentation of poor ideas. A good design can sell itself in many ways. I’m all for a great presentation when time allows, but what is really important to the client is that the design is great.

Daniel Tang
Jun 28, 11 – 12:03 am

I have just posted your blog to my little online community of facebook!

I really liked the break down of the 25 bad habits of Industrial Designers

Mario Ramirez
Nov 23, 11 – 1:40 am

I need to read this weekly… is completely true.
I just posted a spanish version in my blog, your (also other users in the post) credits and a recommendation to visit your blog.

Feb 07, 12 – 11:04 pm

Hear, Hear to 11 and 13!

I’d also add Not being friendly with Accounts – if such a department exists in your company.

5 minutes to communicate, guys, just five minutes. All the headaches will disappear.

I promise: people in other departments ARE NOT evil trolls determined to make your day awful.

[…] Design Sojourn has created a list of 25 Bad Habits of Industrial Designers.  I find it helpful to remind me of typical traps to be aware of and it helps to use it to assess the current state of whatever project I am working on.  I have it at my desk within glancing distance and recommend you do to! […]

Dec 05, 12 – 10:33 pm

This article make me laugh ,, but it’s true..

Nov 15, 13 – 4:24 pm

Truth story..totally agree, especially 19)Designing in a 3D program. this is because sometime those software will create some nice shape & form .

Ozan Bulut
Oct 31, 14 – 3:18 pm

forgetting to design-for-all (inclusive design)
forgetting to design for cradle-to-cradle (product life sourcing)

Dec 20, 14 – 2:06 pm

almost everything is true…

Antonio Rojano
Jul 06, 15 – 12:31 am

That is why Industrial Designers are like gods!! :)

Brian Ling (Design Sojourn)
Aug 03, 15 – 1:08 pm

Haha, no way!

A note about commenting: We value your comments as they provide different perspectives that we can learn from and/or improve our products as we see this blog as a platform for interaction and exchange with our friends. However, whilst we welcome constructive criticism, we do not tolerate offensive and disrespectful comments. Postings deemed inappropriate will be removed.

Finally, to avoid auto deletion from spam filtering, we kindly ask that you use your personal name or initials instead of your business name. Thank you and I hope you enjoy being part of the design conversation!