Everywhere you look these days, experts are urging designers to get it wrong! Early design iteration has always been a good practice in software, but with collaborative tools improving, and processes decentralizing, the idea is spreading to the Web and beyond.
Rapid prototyping has caught on in fields beyond software and Web publishing. Not long ago, Detroit car manufacturers insisted on high-fidelity clay models to prototype early versions of new car designs. Today everyone from automakers to zookeepers uses low-fidelity methods to generate and evaluate multiple prototypes quickly.
Getting the design wrong is promoted most by current entrepreneurial thinking. When you try several ideas quickly, you have a better chance of success overall. It's a great trend because in design, the constant temptation is to polish the first solid concept, rather than generate fresh ideas until something great results. Designers must iterate to get past the first burst of predictable ideas, and stretch their brains around creative solutions. For example, inventor James Dyson built over five thousand prototypes before finalizing his market-changing vacuum cleaner design.
Finally, designers are beginning to embrace failure. Failing to succeed was a theme at SXSW 2008. In July, the counterintuitive Failcamp celebrated design disasters.
Despite inspirational messages, I've seen less of this trend in usability. It's still the practice of incremental perfectionism. As such, usability risks being left behind our launch-and-learn era of quick failure.