Why design is important? (AKA what I have learnt so far)

By Matias Bezzo on June 6, 2016

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Design matters

Design is the approach we use to solve problems in the most efficient manner. It’s a systematic and intuitive way of finding the best solution. An iterative process that allows us to explore a wide range of ideas always with the end user in mind. As Jennifer Kilian, VP of of McKinsey Digital Labs quoted “The reason [design] that it matters for business is because it’s the single biggest competitive advantage that you can have, if your customers are loyal to you—because if you solve for their needs first, you’ll always win. Good design is good business.”

Design is a process

Old Disney animators used to say that process is more than 50% of the work. They had a working method for animation which dealt with everything one step at a time. When you have clear processes in place with clearly defined tasks and activities the structure frees you up to be creative. It allows you to focus on 1 thing at a time and do the best work possible.

Skipping out on any part of the process will come back to bite you. Don’t skip out on process! The first thing that should be in every agency toolkit is a clearly defined plan of attack.

Design is about making connections

When you have a large database of knowledge you are able to make more connections between seemingly disparate pieces of information. Connections feed off each other. At first glance you may not see the connection but when you follow the thought process you will see a trail of ideas leading up to the work. When the connections take many iterations and ‘travel a long way’ the ideas will be more creative. Which connects nicely to my next point (see how this works?)

Learn as much as possible about everything

We have a wide range of interests we don’t dismiss anything without first having a think about it. There is always something to take away from it. An open mind is essential to take creativity further. A wide range of interests allows you to approach design from different perspectives and aids your understanding. A familiar quote comes to mind that clearly describes the attitude necessary “To be interesting, just be interested.”

Design is not a one-person job

The more people involved in the initial ideation phase the better. This is where a wide range of interests and backgrounds really add to the quality and range of ideas. Perspective really does vary between people so different opinions can lead to paths you may not have gone down if you were going solo. The group of course shouldn’t be too large as this will make it difficult for everyone to contribute.

 Design is communication

Firstly, it’s about actually having something to say. Once you have something to say (idea) the job of a designer is to express it as clearly as possible. Again here we want to do something creative but not for the sake of being creative. Paul Rand expressed this best: “Don’t try to be original; just try to be good.” The goal here is to come up with the best solution to the problem.

The little details to matter

The attention you pay to the little details shows how much you care. Of course tackle the big things first. I have been guilty of getting lost in the detail but that high level of attention to details really polishes the end product.

First things first

Here is the paradox: attention to detail matters but you must always see the “whole”, the big picture, at all times. It’s no use stressing over font types and styles when you haven’t even structured content and laid out where everything goes on the page.  It’s easy to get too involved in the details at the wrong time and miss something big. Its like trying to fit a bathroom tap when you haven’t installed the piping.

These are just a few things that I learnt so far in my journey as a designer that really make a difference to the end result. The beauty of design is that it’s constantly evolving so there is always so much to learn. Often the things you learn form design can be applied to life. Here a link to Milton Glaser’s thoughts on what he has learnt in a long and distinguished graphic design career. Definitely worth a read. http://www.miltonglaser.com/files/Essays-10things-8400.pdf

Matias has been in design for nearly 10 years specialising in interface and web design. He has a passion for creating intuitive layout and user centred experiences. He loves to learn about UX and all things related to design.

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