Why quality is impossible at scale

Good interaction and visual design are harder as software grows. Eventually, excellent design is impossible. Here’s why.

It’s harder to manage more

In interaction and visual design, good software is coherent. This means the relationships between all of the things in the software work well. But as the number of things goes up, the number of relationships goes up even faster. Eventually it’s impossible to consider all of those relationships in the interface.

This principle also affects people. The more people who work on software, the harder it is to manage the relationships between all of the people. Things will be lost in translation. People won’t agree on the goal, and will pull in different directions.

You can add more process to manage this, but eventually you’ll spend more time on process than on design.

Some people don’t care enough

The more people you hire, the more likely you are to hire people who don’t care about good design as much as others. Good design needs to be valued from the designer all the way up to the final decision-maker (often the CEO).

Some commercial goals hurt good design

If a company wants some numbers to go up for commercial reasons, it’s tempting to make changes that hurt good design.