The making of good design

I have always wondered what makes a good design. How do I identify something that is designed well. Is it beautiful? Is it absolutely friction less? Does it solve the problem effectively? From the way I look at it; it is a combination of all of the above. To design and meet all these requirements is a big task indeed, isn’t it?

Dieter rams ten principles of design acts as a sort of a Bible to designers and consist of principles which summarise what is good design. So now that we have a ready reckoner, we should be designing something absolutely brilliant. But how is it that we fall between the gaps of something good yet not quite there.

In my opinion good design is about executing a desired outcome through intuitive visual communication. During a recent discussion with a friend, she made a statement that struck a chord with me. The visual design acts as the final garment to the overall product. In simple words, my outfit complements my body structure. My outfit helps enhance my overall appearance. So does that mean form and function comes before visual appearance? So how do we define good design?

Design is the experience. Indubitably. If you have a good experience with any product, you are more likely to return. It is quite simple — People are looking to have the best experience. As designers we are trying to design that experience and make sure people enjoy your product. “Good design is the experience”-what does that mean to me as a designer?

I live pretty close to the airport and have always had trouble getting a cab to the airport, because well the distance is too short and the fare minimal. Not worth the effort. (Ideally you would think a short trip and then maybe another fare instantly from the airport would be good for business, but apparently it isn’t.) So I downloaded the OLA app and called for a cab, got a confirmation instantly and was well on my way to the airport. But I never used OLA again. Well I did once more, till I finally switched over to Uber.

My first experience with Uber was pretty simple and straightforward. However, I had to create a Paytm wallet at that time which was a bit tedious but I did that as well and loaded cash into my wallet and was well on my way to visit my aunt. Right from the registration, to booking the ride, to getting a confirmation to seeing that ride at your doorstep was absolutely frictionless. The ride till my aunts place, surprisingly evaded all the traffic and I reached my destination in 30 minutes flat. And since been a loyal member of the UBER fanclub. Why?

Ola gave me the same experience but I never invested money or time in Ola. Whereas with Uber, the commitment of money and time was instant and just felt like second nature. No questions asked.

That is good design. The initial investment was based on how smoothly I could achieve what I needed combined with the design of the interface which was good.

Uber vs OLA

Maybe I am being partial, I have used both the services and Uber is my go-to when I think I have to get someplace.The less cluttered interface makes me want to go back as compared to the complex interface that OLA has.

That in my opinion is the best design.

As a designer it is imperative that we design for our users because let’s face it, at the end of the day they are ones going to be using your product. So who are your users? What do they need? Are you solving their problem or just making assumptions along the way. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes we can make certain assumptions to get to the point of good design for the lack of something concrete. So then good design is essentially one that solves the user’s problem effectively and makes them want to come back.

As a novice, I am learning the finer nuances of design everyday. There are constant discussions and arguments in every decision making exercise. Each and every designer has a point of view and tries to fight tooth and nail to prove their point. Sounds like a crazy mess right...? But somehow we muddle through. He who convinces the most, emerges victorious. A huge gamble right, essentially there is no right design, only trade-offs.

Well I am still not a 100% on my answer to ‘What is good design?’ but I seam to be getting closer with each passing day. The curiosity to solve challenges, the empathy for your users and the passion to make something better form the basis of how I go about designing at the moment. Maybe I am wrong but I am just starting out and hope to be as good as the design that inspires me.

One of the most important aspects to designing well is feedback. Without adequate feedback you are not able to reciprocate. Good feedback is the most important aspect to delivering the right output. So I am hoping for some feedback, which will help me get closer to my answer and pen down my thoughts. I hope to learn from my mistakes and be passionate enough to keep creating.

Until next time :)