When a Statement About Design Is Stupid

In “A brief history of User Interfaces“, Eric Raymond makes a rather comical statement about how we dismiss some designers and their designs as “stupid”:

In software usability design, as in other kinds of engineering, it is seldom wise to dismiss an apparently clumsy or stupid design by assuming that the engineers of bygone days were idiots. Though engineers, being human, undeniably are idiots on occasion, it is far more likely in the normal course of events that a design you find ridiculous after the fact is actually an intelligent response to tradeoffs you have failed to understand.

It is quite possible that many designs are dismissed as ridiculous today because we fail to understand the real problem.

It’s also a good reminder that the stupidest person isn’t the one trying, but the one making the stupid statements…