By currently making my entrance in a more formal part of the field of design, I am continuously astounded by how this process shapes the way I perceive my everyday environment.
I found that making an effort to be more aware of design not only makes us find it in unexpected places but helps us see past appearances, to what really makes a design successful and useful. Design can sometimes be so practical and commonplace that we don’t even notice it at all. Yet, learning to approach everyday things with more curiosity we start seeing the beauty and value in objects that we normally take for granted.
Any time we use an object that features some form of design, it should leave us feeling something.
Think of design as something that actually affects us can change the way we experience the world as it’s part of almost everything we see and do, from the spaces around us to the little things that we can’t live without.
Design is everywhere: on the carton of milk, the chair you sit on, the street signs, the building you live in, your basic toaster, the websites you skim through every day. Bicycles, elevators, and light switches are just as designed as a restaurant menu, a piece of clothing, or the device you use to read this article. Design goes far beyond the digital world, but instead, everything we make use of in our everyday life is designed to ease our human experience.
Design is not something we can get away from, as it breathes all around us and makes up our world. It influences the way we feel and think, it sneaks into our decision-making process.
If we had to play an imagination game and replace all the objects from our surroundings with the plans and drawings created prior production, the neighborhoods we walk in would essentially become grids and everything we see, use or buy during our walk would be reduced to a fusion of lines, shapes, color, typography, texture, and space.
Our everyday reality is that much designed.
The funny thing about design is that it has a somewhat paradoxical nature: despite being everywhere, we tend to notice it only when it is poorly crafted.
Good design, when it’s done well, doesn’t appear; invisibility becomes a mark of outstanding design. A door that functions in a predictable manner doesn’t make users acknowledge its design or question their ability to open it. On the other hand, confusing doors do. When we try to pull a door that, contrary to our expectations, needs to be pushed, the design becomes noticeable and we wonder whether the problem is with the door or with us.
When the design is done well, the interaction between the user and the product is so smooth that it doesn’t even allow space for wrong attempts; instead, the products are experienced easily and intuitively.
Providing a good UX is a challenging process as well as a rewarding experience for everyone and some of the most important features of great design actually find their roots in user experience. These are understanding and discoverability.
To achieve discoverability, a series of basic concepts need to be applied:
When the design is well-developed, the users should be able to perceive the affordances without having to think about how to use the product; the user experience needs to be effortless and facilitate the emergence of positive emotions.
Great design doesn’t scream for attention, but instead, it produces a feeling that is subconscious, going beyond aesthetics and functionality.
Design is offering a shape to ideas, giving sense to disorder, knowing the right questions and how to ask them, innovatively joining different elements to create a beautiful, seamless experience. It is creating products that fill a well-defined gap and envisioning products that we didn’t even know we needed; and sometimes, in a world where anything can be created, design is understanding if a product should be built at all.
To wrap things up, I encourage you to be observant, to train your critical thinking when it comes to the design of your everyday environment, to get inspired, and to approach products with mindfulness. They were built intentionally and creatively with the scope of simplifying your human experience; they were designed that way.
Andreea Stoica is a Junior Designer at Linnify with 4-year cross-cultural research, both academically and professionally. Having a BA in Comparative literature and MA in History of arts and thought, she turned to design after exploring traditional arts and various visual mediums throughout the last years.
My colleagues, Andrada Farcaș and Adrian Miclăuș have joined their forces to create a design white paper to help individuals from all kinds of backgrounds to simplify their customers' experience, create a design that matters, and set a product successfully on the market. It’s called “Unleash your UX/UI design superpowers - Your essential handbook for generating the design that matters” and you should definitely check it out. It will cost you less to read it than it will if not.