This article aims to explain design in the most simplest terms, and dive into how design is a part of everything, from a small pen to a large rocket. We then dive into an example to understand this better and also take a look at why good design matters.
Design is Everywhere You Look.
Design is something that most people talk about every day, even if they don’t realise it. Be it fashion, buildings, cars, mobile phones or the multitude of apps we use daily, design is an integral part of all products. If someone has ever told you, “I love how your dress looks” or “I really like the new interface of this app”, then you are inadvertently hearing about design!
Though design is such an integral part of our lives, not a lot of us know what it means. Strictly speaking, design involves creating solutions to problems faced by people. These solutions can be in the form of a new product, service, process or even a physical object, as per the situation. The exact meaning can differ across fields as the problem statements also differ, but the goal of improving human/user experience remains the common thread. Designers help analyse and understand these problems and use their expertise to provide the most effective solutions.
Design Adds Value.
There is no doubt that design is all pervasive and it adds immense value. This is more so in the field of science and technology, where design has shaped many useful innovations, and in some cases, life-saving. Technology has in turn, facilitated easier and more accurate design. With the rise in digital interactions and transactions, it has become an integral part of most digital businesses. Most of them look at design and designers as a crucial part of their business, and this is even more true for digital products. Designers help these firms solve their most-pressing problems, make their product look pleasing to the eye and more importantly, ensure that the users have a smooth experience with very minimum hassles.
Let’s look at how this works through a simple example. Consider a bookstore that has decided to go online to increase its sales and reach out to more people. The store would need a website to display its selections to its customers, who will then make their purchase accordingly. As there are multiple genres such as history, fiction, mystery, romance etc, and thousands of books under each genre written by many writers, it becomes a challenge for the customer to find his/her choice of book quickly and easily. This is where design comes into the picture. The designer sits down and understands the problem by breaking it down step-by-step, creates an initial solution based on his/her expertise and detailed research, tests it out to understand its effectiveness, makes the final changes and eventually rolls it out for the users. A solution here is to create a search bar that helps users find their book of choice and make a purchase. Further on, the books can be divided according to their genre and displayed. In addition, the website’s launch page can display books in categories such as new launches, top picks in each genre and even the Editors’ Top 10.
Good Design Matters.
Design is a constantly evolving field, requiring well-researched innovative and collaborative solutions to problems. Once a business/product scales up, design problems get more and more complex and the initial solutions need refining. Feedback given by users is also incorporated into the solutions to improve the user experience. These form some of the tenets of design thinking, which has helped shape how designers and businesses look at problems.
Design is no longer about only making things look good to the eye. Even if a product looks very good but is not at all useful in resolving its main problems, then it becomes very difficult to use. This led to the concept of functionalist design, as conceived by Dieter Rams, a German industrial designer. Functionalist design states that design of a product was based on the purpose it served. In addition to being useful, remember that good design should be easy to use, innovative, authentic, environmentally conscious, long-lasting and thought down to the last detail. After all, design sends a very powerful message to everyone using the product, which eventually determines its success.