Consider this: good design is invisible. What I mean is, as far as usability goes, if you’ve designed something well, the user should not notice having used whatever it is you’ve created. At most, they should be left with a feeling of “that was easy”, which, really, is simply a reaction to previously-experienced bad design.

visible / invisible furniture series by takeshi miyakawa

[So…let me get this straight… You’re saying that if I work hard and am smart and have talent, that my work will go unnoticed? But someone who is a hack, hasn’t put a lot of thought into something, and just kludges it together—they’re the ones whose work will be recognized?]

Yup. Basically. OK, you’ll get peer recognition because the people who know how that stuff works will notice your skill because that’s their job. But the end users? They won’t notice at all. In fact, they probably won’t even remember using your design. So the hours you spent prototyping and testing and re-engineering, etc. —all for nothing.

Well, not *nothing*. Far from nothing, actually. Because if you’ve done your job well, it means that the user (aka customer) will get through the sales funnel quicker and easier, which will in turn translate to sales, and that will make the business happy.

So if you want to be a good designer, i.e. one with a longterm career, then your focus needs to be on good design, yes, but not just for the sake of design (and perhaps to plump your designer’s ego). It’s got to be to facilitate the end user’s experience. In other words, make someone’s life easier.

And then, I would suggest, leaving it at that. Because weird stuff can start happening in your head when you start thinking about how the user’s good experience translates to sales. So, yeah, I would say leave it at that if you can.

Originally posted November 8, 2012


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