Revisiting established ideas can help build new perspectives.
As with any profession, focus is an essential part of crafting and honing your skills to achieve success in your field. For me, often times that focus morphs into tunnel vision. I’ve found that taking a look back and picking apart the foundation of what I already know can help me rediscover new perspectives that ultimately helps me approach new things differently and more times than not, more effectively.
Recently I visited the Chicago Instutute of Art and thoroughly enjoyed the tour. I was able to step into their shoes in a sense and experience the artist's emotions through their work. It was an experience that still resonates with me. Ultimately it let me take a step back and look at my current interpretations and ideas of what I know and open my mind to new perspectives.
One aspect that I keep revisiting is the broad term; Design. At it’s core I believe:
- Design is about solving problems.
- Design = Art + Intent + Function
“Intuitive design is how we give the user new superpowers.” - Jared Spool
When I was younger, I toyed with the idea of being an engineer instead of a designer. I thought of the two careers as completely separate paths. Ultimately the love for art guided me towards design but it wasn’t until relatively recently I discovered that engineers and designers have more in common than I previously realized. The main difference is the method of how the problem is solved. Both are craftsman who design an experience to solve a problem in the most effective and efficient way possible.
The Cogs of Design
Instinctually we are attracted to perceived beautiful things. It naturally affects us psychologically, emotionally and physically. However, the true magic of the arts is in the interpretation. It can be vary for everyone. This was the case in Chicago, Wassily Kandinsky's goal was to simply let you perceive it as you would, there was no right or wrong way to perceive it. He had his intentions based on the events around him, but opened up perception with "Improvisation 30".
A design without clear intention can seem lost and aimless. Introduce purpose into the mix and effective communication is established.
“Without good design it is easy to miss the point” - Bjarni Wark
The experience of how the design works is also important. User experience (UX) is an art form all in itself. If the functionality is overly complex and/or confusing, the user will surely have forgotten all that the design was good at up to that point.
Design is full of metaphors - and for good reason. It intuitively communicates how to use something. For example, Apple and Microsoft both used the literal desktop metaphor for years. Why? Because you already knew how to use it. You had somewhat of an idea of what to expect when you double clicked an icon of a filing cabinet in Windows 3.0. They knew they couldn't keep building a command line interface forever and still have a widely successful product. However, the recent debate of Skeuomorphic vs. Flat design had me defending skeuomorphism for this point of communicating usage - but I may be backing away from that argument. We are coming into a new generation where interacting with a computer are no longer something we have to take a class to understand. Kids are growing up with this way of interaction and inherently grasping the concepts way earlier than we used to. This eliminates the need for an overly skeuomorphic designed interface with polished mohogany textures and 3D rendered buttons. Interaction concepts are slowly getting away from relying on the aspect of tactile touch, but instead relying more on the aspect of cause and effect.