hello or cucumber?

the importance of effective communication and how design and experience can amplify a message

in the coming few paragraphs we will explore together how language — and it’s design — mirror that of the tangible world in which we live. by painting you a picture of the key traits of effective language, we hope to increase your consideration for a design’s intent — whilst arming you with the tools to execute that intent to the full. so, shall we begin?


it’s a simple message, easy to understand, designed with so much elegance and beauty — pretty much anyone on this planet can decipher its meaning. so let’s say — for arguments sake — it’s pretty much the gold standard for effective communication.

good, we agree, let’s analyse why.

hello. there she is again, the little beauty.

independent, strong. in its significance it speaks both subtly and directly to the intended recipient — ideal. but what enables the word ‘hello’ to wield this power? the one ring? sadly not.

hello — typically — is the prefix for any form of interaction; be it between two parties, one to many, or many to one — in all forms, the recipient gets its meaning.

does the fact ‘hello’ is the start to most of our conversations, increase its ease of understanding? you better believe it… why? because it’s been designed that way.

try starting a conversation with ‘cucumber’, the other person will have absolutely zero idea where you are going, what you are taking, and will probably immediately mistrust or question your coming interaction… and sanity.

oppositely, a simple hello builds trust, is implicitly understood and enables a flow to the conversation. stunning… right?

of course, history and experience dictate that ‘hello’ has cultural significance, with meaning that has been forged over time — whereas cucumber is a vegetable. cucumber literally has no relevance to an initial conversation, unless you are a chef… in a kitchen… asking… with immediacy… for the cucumber. are you a chef? probably not.

what am I getting at here? …effective communication is implicit, understood by all and is designed to directly convey a point. additionally, within that design, the experience of interacting with it is pleasurable and easy.

hello is easy, provides a lovely experience and communicates exactly what it means at the point of its inception. cucumber is misinformative, gives little guidance and tastes pretty average.

good communication, be it web, brand, social, you name it, needs to address its intended recipient with empathy. in doing so you consider far more when initiating a design; like the order of importance when it comes to delivering a message, the key elements that will highlight exactly what you want to say, and so forth. these considerations enable your design to become far more ‘hello’ and much less ‘cucumber’.

@makingpretty, we focus on great design that communicates exactly what you want your message to be. within that, we create experiences for the user, customer, passer by, or whomever, that is seamless, implicit and joyous.


part of the ‘good design starts with words’ series.

— matt@makingpretty.co.uk —

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