Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Boring Designer

Once in a while, I stop to think about all the products I'm using on a daily basis and which of them provide the best experience to me. Why are they so pleasurable to use? What makes them that way? Over and over, it's the same reason: they're simple. In the same way that visual design has become minimal and stripped of everything that is not essential, so too have the best products and apps become something immediately easy to understand and use, and that's what makes them so successful.

How do these sorts of products come into creation? What sort of designer might think about making a product such as this? A product so simple that some people may wonder at its existence, but to a percentage of the population its use is as natural as breathing.

This designer is someone who cares more for function than form, and is a constant believer in killing one's darlings. This designer does not stubbornly clasp to their ideas at the cost of the overall experience, nor do they try to reinvent the wheel.

This designer understands that the user needs their product to function and they need it to function well. It should get a specific job done quickly and efficiently. It should do one thing, and do it well. This type of designer is someone we might venture to call ‘boring’.

I read an amazing article by Cap Watkins about the importance of the boring designer. He puts it brilliantly; a designer should:
  • Choose obvious over clever
    Don't show off, always go with the simplest and easiest solution to universally understand
  • Rarely stand their ground
    Try every idea, as the right one may be disguised in a suggestion that seems strange
  • Be practical
    Prioritize, understand your limitations of time, budget, etc.
  • Value laziness
    Be efficient, set yourself up for success by doing things right the first time. Measure ten times, cut once.
  • Lead the team
    These traits may not seem like those of a leader, but they are actually the stuff of a designer who is trusted over and over again to put the user first.
Quite an excellent read for young product designers, especially when designing for places like Dribbble, where visuals of product design are often prized over real solutions to problems.

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