Design In Real Life
We don’t often think about the design of things until it fails in some way. While we may be pleasantly surprised at good design, design in general often goes unnoticed altogether – we don’t normally care what something looks like as long as it works.
It’s when we’re stuck in a train that’s set to divide in half at the next station that we realise the failure of the train’s map illustration. What station are we splitting at? Where is each car going? Which car am I even in? Where the heck is our destination on this map?
As the train pulls closer to the station we get more and more desperate in our pursuit of making the design work. Surely the stop is somewhere on here, right?
The goal of any designer isn’t to make something look nice – its to make something work and work well. I don’t care if the map uses pretty colours or graphics. I care about finding the information I need quickly and easily.
How many times have you been confused about which way a door opens? Why is there a push handle on the side that pulls?
The sleek glass shelf above our sink seemed really beautiful when we decided to rent our flat. But eight months later – all but one of my bathroom pieces have fallen off it and shattered. This is bad design dressed as something pretty.
Bad design is frustrating for everyone – for the user particularly but even for the designer himself. Who wants to spent time fixing something old when the shiny and new is waiting to be discovered?
Whether you design for mobile devices, the web or the real world, take into account how users will come into contact with your designs. Do they have an infinite amount of time to browse that complicated map of yours? Or are they rushing to get to the correct car before the train splits? This is why information design is more important than the visual candy.
Photo from me & @katskii ‘s trip to Eastbourne on Southern Rail