Where is the line?

Ben Cline
Ben Cline
Mar 5, 2015 · 2 min read

At Rally, we’re always debating whether our designs are too extreme or too safe. Eventually, on every project, a fine line begins to appear. If you stray too far above or below the line, you put your product in a precarious position.

Above

Go too far above the line (too unique and unconventional) — you risk trying to ship an interface that is impossible for engineers to build. More importantly, you risk wasting your time trying to design an interface that is absurd for normal people to actually use.

Below

Go too far below the line (too conservative and conventional) — you risk launching something that looks and feels dated immediately. By doing so, you also aren’t helping move the needle forward within our profession of interactive design.

Where is the line? It depends…

The line is dictated by who your audience is and what your interface is trying to solve.

Are you designing a VR system for the next generation? You’ll have more liberties to experiment by pushing the boundaries of what a usable interface of the future might be like.

Are you designing a health care app for older people? Then you’ll have to be more conservative with how unique your interface looks and behaves.

We need designers who like to hang out a bit above and below the line

Designers who are “boundary-pushers” are helpful because they force the industry to think about the future. They help coax our tools and users to evolve with emerging technologies.

Designers who are conservative and pragmatic are always valuable because they’ll fight for the simplest UX. Often times “boundary-pushing” goes too far and needs to be reigned in.

Constructive criticism from either side is a good thing. Just remember a little empathy goes a long way as both tendencies are valid. It enables better collaboration when trying to ship.

Perfectly balancing on the line

Perfection is impossible. However, trying to balance on the line seems like the sweet spot. The best interfaces have just the right amount of surprise, delight, sophistication and are intuitive to use.


At Rally, we have a long way to go before balancing on the line but we’re still striving for it.


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About Rally:

Rally is an Interactive Studio. We design and develop digital products — mobile, web, and non-traditional interfaces / connected systems.

Thanks to Ben Mingo, Eric Atwell, and Geof Crowl.

Ben Cline

Written by

Ben Cline

Co-Founder / Designer at Rally Interactive @letsgorally. Passionate about Design, Skis, Bikes, Beer, Mechanical Watches, and Modern Architecture.