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Design: what is it and why do we keep stressing its importance?
Design; a funny little word, isn’t it?
What does it mean, exactly? Why do we keep mentioning it when you ask us for help creating a website? To be honest, the word itself is quite difficult to explain. The Cambridge English Dictionary describes it as either a drawing, a set of drawings, or the way in which something is made and planned.
What can we make of it?
I would divide the word into two categories. First: problem solving, by which I mean that design functions as a way to create a solution. You come to us with a problem: you have your own business but cannot get any clients because no one can find it. In that case, we tell you to create an awesome application to connect with potential customers. This part of the definition is reflected in the design of a car, furniture, or user experience. How it works is more important than how it looks.
On the other hand, you’ve probably noticed some awful-looking web pages and thought to yourself: “no way, I’m not spending my hard-earned money on that”. Well, we’ve come to the second part, which is figuring out how to present something in an attractive way. In this category, I would classify paintings, drawings, posters and so on. The conclusion is that design, at least in my opinion, is all about finding a balance between usefulness and prettiness. Who needs a beautiful application which is unusable? Who needs a website which doesn’t really contain anything interesting? Those are the questions.
In iMakeable, we always focus on designing beautiful and easy to use mobile and web applications. User Experience and Interface Design are crucial elements that we can’t stress enough. Of course, someone might say “if it works, it works, why bother designing something else? Why do we need it at all?” Well, let me show you some examples that prove that design is as vital to your day as math or other scientific fields that are generally considered more important.
What are some examples of how design affects our everyday lives?
You probably drive somewhere every day. Perhaps not to your office, since we’re amidst a global pandemic, but maybe to go shopping or to the park with your dog. It’s an activity that you do without thinking. Starting the engine, changing gears, turning right and left when you must. You just do it. You’ve also probably read thousands of road signs in your life. They look more or less like this, don’t they?
Photo by Wyborcza.pl
Imagine you’re driving right now, nothing special, just going about your day. You’re trying to listen to the radio while thinking about what you’ll eat for dinner. Suddenly, instead of the previous road sign, you see this one:
I bet you wouldn’t read the sign in time to realize where you need to turn. I would even assume that you would probably be a little disappointed that someone put up this sign without thinking about the fact that you have a mere second to read it while you pass by.
Let’s go further down the rabbit hole. Not too long ago, a hospital in Sieradz, Poland, changed its logo. On one hand it’s pretty accurate since ECG monitors are supposed be read right to left, yet not many people know this. Because of this fact, many viewers were horrified at first glance, since the hospital’s logo essentially displayed death. They turned it around after that. Who would go to a hospital with a logo that literally signifies somebody’s death? In general, apart from medical professionals, no one knows how to read an ECG machine.
Photo by dziennikzachodni.pl
What about UX Design?
Let’s move on to our bread and butter: UX/UI design. I’ve got some more examples for you.
First of all, the “delete message” system on Whatsapp and Facebook. If you want to delete a message, that means that you don’t want the other person to know about it. Yet these web apps think it’s a good idea to replace the message with a notice stating that it’s been deleted. You end up having to explain that you made a typo and that’s why you deleted the message.
Netflix: a way to relax. Yet how can you relax, when you go onto the website and it automatically and loudly plays the trailer for the current top movie? Especially at night, when you can’t sleep and your roommates are in the next room. You know you’ve woken them up and tomorrow you’re going to get the “we need to talk about the noise” talk.
Ryanair’s booking platform is another example. If you’re reading this from somewhere in Europe, you’ve probably seen it. It’s misleading with its long lists, clearly prioritizing the company instead of the customer. Every time you want to book a flight, you need to jump through a plethora of options that make the whole experience confusing.
Super long dropdown lists can be a nightmare. I live in Poland, which is always at the end of most lists. I know they are easy to make, but they are extremely confusing for the user, especially if he doesn’t know exactly what to pick. Why don’t more companies use geolocation to push your country to the top? It’s so nice when they do that.
Out of the blue requirements
Numerous requirements for setting up a password can also be a pain. We all know that the strongest passwords are those that have a random combination of capital and small letters in conjunction with digits, but do we really need to protect our data while logging onto a meme website? Probably not.
Chat bots are a great way for companies to establish contact with clients However, how often have you tried using one, but it was designed in such a way that you weren’t able to achieve anything? Probably too often.
One of my favorite examples concerns the Juicero juicer: a machine that was designed in such a fashion that required you to have a solid wifi connection and a phone app. To make a glass of orange juice, you needed to have your phone on you. It’s self-explanatory; the company closed down in 2017.
Photo by Digital Initiative
Does good design exist?
Of course! British electrical sockets are first on the list. They’re installed right in the wall, so there’s no way children can electrocute themselves.
Tape dispensers. You’ve probably struggled with that tricky end of the tape that is always hard to find, but someone’s come up with a solution to your inconvenience.
Laundry detergent caps that function also as a measuring device. It’s a simple, yet brilliant idea. All the cap needs is a little line inside that shows how much detergent you need to pour.
Do you know what chorks are? If you want to dine at a fancy sushi restaurant, yet don’t know how to use chopsticks, chorks will save your night.
Photo by The Chork
What about examples of good UX Design?
Duolingo is a pillar of great UX design. When you first visit the site, all you need to do is answer three basic questions to start using the service. You are presented with the option to pay for a subscription afterwards. Many other websites force the user to pay for the subscription plan before using the site, which is detrimental for the user experience.
Mailchimp is also worth mentioning. The website uses a mascot in the same way as earlier Windows versions used the paperclip Office Assistant. It pops up from time to time and gives advice to the user, which humanizes the process.
Wolt and UberEats use a smart strategy for ordering food. When you visit a restaurant for the second time, your previous choice is listed on top, so you don’t have to scroll through the whole menu.
Google, especially google store. The site loads in a second, literally. They put the money on super-fast servers, which ensures that users are more likely to stay on the site and buy something.
Habitica helps with time management. Instead of making an old, boring block design, it uses gamification in a creative way. It boosts productivity by adding elements like levels and prizes. This makes the whole website more user friendly.
What does this mean for me?
I would say this means two things.
First of all, you should realize that all your life you’ve been living in a designed world. From the doors that you open, to the apps that you use, everything was designed one way or another. It’s not only about pretty pictures. We, the designers, help you solve problems. That’s our role in society.
At iMakeable, when we encourage you to consider hiring not only programmers but also a designer, we want to ensure that solutions are provided for you. We are certain that our UX/UI design team will make your app stand out and just “pop”, ensuring positive reviews and, of course, profitability.
How does it work, exactly? Let me list some facts for you:
- To acquire a customer you need to establish trust. In order to do so, you need to persuade the customer that what you offer is the best solution to your problem.
- The customer decides on whether or not to trust you in 0.05 seconds.
- Approximately 2.6 seconds is needed to make a first impression while looking at a website.
- A positive first impression increases the level of satisfaction.
So, you need a good, well thought-out design to actually attract customers. It’s not only about having a website, but also about how it works and how it looks. I hope after reading this article, you have a better sense of understanding of how design can impact your life.