This is a old unpublished article from 2013 that I am publishing in 2018. I think the topic is still relevant and I would like to share it with you all just to get your comments on the same. Continue reading
Design, as we know it, has evolved over centuries. The design that we experiences in everyday life, be it industrial design or art or engineering has had an evolution that matured it to the current form and experience. Software is a much recent phenomenon, going by the age of the sector itself. Design in software technology has just about recently started to see fundamental principles and philosophies being applied. Apple did skeuomorphism, Microsoft did tiles and Google was furiously iterating with its users to design its software better. Till now, they never clearly defined a philosophy that governed their design. It had always been guidelines for designers and developers to help develop on their platform.
At 2014 I/O, Google introduced what is already been seen on their web applications and mobile OS as their new design philosophy. Material design. Have a look at the video playlist below to understand what Google plans to do with this design philosophy and how it got inspired and what vision it sees brought forth with a philosophy that’s materialistic, metaphorically speaking.
Skeuomorphs and Affordances
Since the introduction of iOS 7, the blogosphere has been alive with debate on Apple’s departure from skeuomorphism—the yellow lined legal pad of Notes, the leather bound folio of Calendar. We are now deeply mired in a flat vs. skeuomorphic debate that reduces skeuomorphism to coddling kitsch and equates flat design with high-modernism. Both sides have missed the point.
Skeuomorphs in design aren’t useless decoration, but contextual clues. Like design metaphor they are the visual equivalent of figurative language—enabling designers to quickly tap into shared cultural understandings and convey complex meanings in a straightforward way. They work as a new kind of affordance, one that communicates not function but identity.
READ MORE: Does Skeuomorphic Design Matter? | UX Magazine.
Google is going flat on its search page. The new logo is flat, the navigation is minimalistic and floats on the top right of the screen. The drop down menu for the apps does not carry any scrollbar and appears only when attempted to scroll the list. Its reminiscent of the mobile platform experience and now its gone cross platform.
I seem to have got the update but others are yet to receive it. It seems Google is rolling out the new design in stages. Earlier, I thought this was being A/B tested. Perhaps it is but now an article in BBC confirms the design streamline strategy that Google intends to roll-out across all its products for a more unified experience.
— hemant nagwekar (@hemantnagwekar) September 20, 2013
Agile design is what everyone seems to go for and yet is always an challenge. This video focuses on 7 things to deliver a quicker, easier user experience. Its been presented by Kyrie Robinson of Silicon Valley Product Group. Enjoy this video insight.
As a usability or user experience architect one is very passionate about their output, and why not. You have spent long hours banging your head trying to understand requirements, getting stakeholders excited and convincing your model to the business. When it comes to getting your design implemented, that’s when you have a visual designer at hand who is brought in to develop your vision into reality.
Then there are others who involve user experience designers in this process and have then get involved at a certain stage of development so as to have them limber up to the main event of creating the user interface. I am not drawing any conclusions here but I do have an opinion that a designer is a designer. And if he is designing a website or an application, he is good at his game. To create fantastic visual interpretation of the user interface. Graphic designers have a special significance in a creative team because they have the tendency to think out of the box. I like that attribute to be associated and be an asset in a product development team.
Let me start by underlining the importance of good graphic designers –
- They thrive on challenges
- They always think out of the box
- They are not limited by conformity
- They know their game, and goal is to create the wow factor with attention to detailing
- Always listening, always curious
A good designer would always be a good learner. If you trace all the design evolution till date in software and web, designers have been always been there tinkering with the latest in technology and business and software solutions. They have always been working hand in hand with core teams and absorbing skills that complimented their own core skills. So, when it comes to user experience, I see no different situation.
Here are some points one which I follow when involving a designer in a project. I have created this list based on my personal experience with them as a user experience professional.
- Give them an orientation about them about the software or product. Allow them to absorb and understand the product. They will feel a lot more engaged with their work.
- Identify and share challenges with them. Engage them by taking critical inputs or solutions from them. They will feel as an important part of the team.
- Engage them early, even if their work is not yet taken off in the project time line. It gives them some breathing space to creatively limber and be prepared with ideas and thoughts that they can bring in on a tight schedule.
- If your disagree with their designs, do not criticize them. Instead challenge their solution by giving your counter argument on why it would not work. No one appreciates negative criticism but everyone respects and accepts rational debates.
- Sometimes you need to cut a slack and focus on the critical issues. Designers tend to get bogged down by creative issues that you might not find critical. Instead of telling them to hurry things up, your should assist them plan design tasks based on criticality.
- Balance your appreciation with criticism. Excess of both are not good for our product. You need to know when to balance things by adding the right amount. This is applicable even when things are going in the extreme ends (good or bad i,e).
- Even if its not their concern, it sometimes feels good to share some insights with them to address certain issues. And vica versa, you should take inputs from them and if possible consider its application, and perhaps apply them. Its no rocket science that most of the times, if not always, experience teaches is more than books do.
- Given them responsibilities and watch them become responsible. I am yet to see a designer who has not taken his responsibility seriously. They may not be good at taking big ones but when set in small sets, they tend to do wonders.
- Acknowledge their contribution to the larger group in your organisation. They will appreciate it and also take pride in their work.
I guess the last point holds true for all of us too, doesn’t it?
[Image copyright: logolitic.com]