Why do we need design?

Understanding the past, the present and the future of design.

Design is a huge factor in success of a product. A good design decides for how long people are going to use your product and if you are going to make some sense to your end users.

In this article, We are going to talk about why “design” has become such a buzz.

But first of all we need to understand what design really is?

Design, in simple words, is planning an optimal way to perform a certain task.

As soon as we identify a problem, we often start thinking about how we can solve it. And an optimal design solution is often a result of user research, market study, multiple rounds of iterations and also a result of multiple failures.

A design could be tangible — People can touch and feel your design (Ex, designing a hardware device or designing cars or shoes or a keyboard for your computer/handheld devices).

A design could also be intangible — People can not touch or see your design directly (Ex. Designing a service or Consumer Experience).

Now since we have briefly touched the core of design, let’s see how all of it started.

Design in the past:

Humans have been designing things in one way or the other since thousands of years. Design has not only been a part of evolution but also a huge factor in survival of human species.

From designing figures in caves to communicate/note down an experience:

Source

To Designing weapons and tools carved out of stones:

Source

Humans have been designing things since a very very long time.

State of Design in Present

Even though, design has been an integral part of human evolution and survival, mass acceptance, appreciation and recognition of design has only started during last couple of decades. This acceptance and realization of importance of design, in success of a product or service, has lead to a large scale design movement where not only people and organizations have started accommodating design in their everyday thinking but we also have governments who are bringing all of their offline processes, online. A recent example is how my home country, India, could bring its passport application process completely online which not only helped simplify the life of its citizen but also almost eradicated the corruption which was prevailing earlier.

TCS, one of the giants in the IT services industry has published a case study on the same here if you would like to know more about this commendable transformation.

We also have started designing better machinery, environment friendly cars, efficient public transport including electric busses, Cost effective railways, Fuel efficient Airplanes and better designed and engineered rockets.

And not to mention the digital revolution we are currently going through with millions of mobile and web apps in B2B and B2C sectors which has lead to creation of millions of jobs. Not only that, better designed products have also simplified the healthcare sector where people now can take advantage of a better healthcare facilities.

Most of the things, human beings on this planet are interacting with, are “designed”.

The Future

In my personal opinion, I think organizations and governments are going to continue embracing the philosophy of design thinking and are going to be the biggest adopters. This massive paradigm shift in conventional way of doing things is going to lead us to not only innovations but also a more optimized way of living through technological reforms.

  • Design in Transport and Energy. We are going to witness IOT based better, faster and environment friendly transport systems. We’ll be able to reuse/recycle waste to produce energy and use it where it’s needed more efficiently.
  • Design in Communication System. Remember how the communication has evolved from using cave art paintings to using cell phones? We are going to experience better and optimized channels of communication.
  • Design in Governance. Better governance through well designed services which will not only benefit the citizen of the country, but will also help the economy of a nation to grow exponentially.
  • Design in Physical and Digital Products. We have already started seeing/using products based on IOT. Google Home and Amazons Echo is one of the hottest product in IOT domain right now, we are going to witness a mass adoption of products like, cars, refrigerators, washing machines and a lot of everyday products based on IOT.
  • Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality and Virtual Reality. The gaming, medical and eCommerce sectors are going to adapt AR/MR/VR to provide more human-centric/user-centric experience to their end users and customers.

So, if you really want to try and understand the purpose of design, and If you want to develop a design thinking, start asking the tough questions.
‘The Whys’

  • Why the steering wheels of your car is circular and not triangular or squarish?
  • Why your cloths are made out of fabrics and not plastic or steal (or animal skins)?
  • Why the screen you’re looking at right now is rectangular and not circular or of any other odd shape?
  • Why do they use automatic doors in metro trains and public transport buses?
  • Why announcements at railway stations and airports are done in, both, the local language and English?

Each and every one of the above mentioned experiences are “Designed”.

So in conclusion, Why do we need design?

  • To simplify our life.
  • To save our time — the most precious asset a human being has.
  • To increase efficiency.
  • To help our nation — A well designed service, for example, the transformation of Passport system in recent years where my country could bring a complete offline, and often a painful experience for the citizen of my country, online. A well designed transport system. A well designed communication system. A well designed infrastructure.
“Everything is designed. A few things are designed well”.
..Most of the times..

Thanks for your time reading this article. I hope this article could add to your knowledge. Please feel free to criticize, correct me if I am wrong anywhere, Add your own points and/or if you think this article can be useful for someone you know, please feel free to share on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or anywhere you want! :)


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