A Few Thoughts on Design

David Lano

What does “design” mean to you?  Is it more of an afterthought — a “let’s put some pizazz on that…”?  Or rather is “design” more of a structural composition, an order or a process for doing something?  We recently re-built our website from scratch, so we’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.

Let’s take a step back for a moment and think about why we even might care about something like design.  After all, don’t we just want our site to be functional?  To get our point across, or to have the customer fill out the form, or whatever?  Perhaps.  Throwing design out the window surely is cheaper and much, much easier.

So why should we care about design?

Let’s just assume for a moment that whatever task we have before us, is in fact moral and actually is in the best interest of the receiving party in the long term – it’s not something that just benefits us but isn’t good for them.  Now that we have that settled…

Good design should lead.

Let’s say we want to build a website that doesn’t encourage aimless clicking, but instead, leads the user down an intentional path…using carefully crafted words and images to pose questions, engage, and hopefully lead the individual to a solution or action.  Should we use the color red?  Can we make that image blink?  That might be fun…

Okay but, how are we going to get the attention of this person or company and compel them to engage with us?  The temptation is to try and steal attention, or somehow demand it.  Or perhaps force them or trick them into falling for x or y.  We could even flash something shiny, hoping they’ll bite.  Marketers try to do this all the time, even when they have the user’s best interest in mind.  But it still feels like trickery, even if it’s done from a valid psychological perspective or uses the old “carrot on a stick” approach.  This is a dangerous road to take.  It’s short-sighted and doesn’t last.  We don’t want to trick them into this or that – that’s not cool.  Even if we do succeed, what have we done to whatever relationship we had with this person or company?

No, I think great design should be like telling a good story.

The good news is that we all have our own story, no need to worry about whether or not we’re experts on the subject matter or if we have the right credentials – all of that goes out the window.  Tell your story, from your own experience.  It’s unique, and it’s you.

But, my story/design won’t be interesting to everyone?  You don’t say?  That’s the whole point.  If you try to create a story that’s fitted to everyone you’ll reach no one.  If you try to create a design that is suited for everyone, my guess is it’s going to be bland and totally uninteresting.

Don’t settle for less and don’t give up.  Don’t make design an afterthought – it’s not easy, but that’s the whole point.
Do tell your story.  Be honest, and please take time to think about design.  Don’t make us beg.