The dangers of delightful design
John Saito

That is such a good article, really speaking from my heart. Just this morning, waking up after a behance and dribbble deep dive session last night, I thought to myself that, quite often pretty designs tend to distract from the actual content and functionality of a digital product.

I noticed the inversion of the effect when going back to a blunt wireframe state with a web app I already explored in high fidelity mode. Because we are expanding the scope of the app, I decided to go back to a more conceptual staging, using an „ugly“ monospace font together with flat, greyscale shapes. I noticed that the product suddenly felt much more straight forward and focused.

Also in this context I came across a study where the usage of readable fonts in educational materials was compared against unusual, harder to read fonts (Arial vs. Monotype Corsiva). Test results with the harder to read font were so much better because processing these fonts require a more deliberate thinking mode than those we are used to.

So we should repeatedly question our designs, if they fulfill their exact mission. Beautifully balanced compositions may have the effect of a good peace of art, making for a delightful experience where users really flow through the process. This is super if the flow leads into the right direction, without making them skip over important details. Who doesn’t want to design a sign up process that is so easy to process that users almost can’t resist taking part. We all know that masterly design can be that powerful. But on the other hand, when we want users to focus and really think about a piece of content we should build straight forward interfaces that activate a deeper thought process.

The issue has been discussed some time ago as dribbblisation of design. Designers on dribbble try to upstage each other with eye candy designs. Which makes sense and lies in the competitive nature of such a platform. Everybody wants to be seen, get noticed, get booked. But how many of their shots are actually real world products? As much as I love flicking through eye candy to get inspired, I try to calm down and focus on usability when going back to work.

I used to fear mediocrity and being “boring” as a designer. So articles like this one are really helpful to keep us all on track. Thanks for that.

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