Digital Desire Paths
Every trail bares a statistical story about its travellers.
Desire paths appear wherever a remarkable force wears a channel into something via repetition.
In many cases, desire paths are weak pieces of infrastructure doing unplanned labor, e.g. lawn doing the work of stone.
Good architects anticipate nature. They don’t blame water for dripping. They don’t blame people for peopling.
Many college campuses lay sidewalks after routes have already been established. Resisting a herd is futile.
Patient designers wait for obvious improvements to introduce themselves. Obvious improvements become invisible if implemented well.
Every discipline has its desire paths. A few contemporary examples:
- Writing: Don’t blame short attention-spans when people skim your writing. Write succinctly. Add visual structure. Surprise your readers.
- UI Design: Instagram is intuitive enough for monkeys. Count each click. Reduce surprises. Make it snappy.
- API Design: Clean code is an act of compression. Remove abstraction sidewalks and look for code collocates in the lawn.
Don’t fault people for using your architecture “incorrectly”. Thank them for blazing a trail of lesser resistance.