Design is inescapable. We encounter it in our day to day lifestyle, as it surrounds us and is moreover the foundation and shaper of every environment. While those with sharp, attentive-to-detail eyes are more likely to praise the good and discuss the bad design elements of every day things, the careless or aesthetically unaware observer will subconsciously accept the good, and make it a point to verbalize the bad designs they encounter.
As one who falls into the former category of observers, I am eager to boast about good designs, why I can classify it as such, and what makes it so appealing to a user like me. Top of my list: ease of use, accessibility, efficiency, customization, integration—but of course this list is subject to change depending on the medium to which these ideal components apply. How typical that I would list features that I consider critical to a “good design” for technology-related products and services alike. However, in reality, the importance of design stems beyond technology, playing a vital role in architecture, product development, advertising, marketing, communication services, and nearly every other system we engage with, whether tangible or intangible.
Everyone loves a good design. (This revolutionary product speaks volumes cross-generations.)
And when it comes to good design, some instantly proclaim it, while others contently accept it. But when it’s bad, you often can’t be silent. Not when a bad design is so painstakingly obvious, or when it affects productivity, or any of the other design ideals outlined above. That’s when there’s a problem. As a user, bad designs irk me—but admittedly, I still have a love/hate relationship with them. While I love to learn from bad designs, and instinctively start thinking about what I would do to improve annoyances “x, y, and z,” I hate it when a poor, ill-thought out design encroaches on the task at hand, and undermines the vitality and overarching importance of accessibility. Because good design puts accessibility at the forefront.
Larissa Harris, in her article 8 Steps to Good User Interface Design on TalentZoo.com, discusses how the principles of UID, User Interface Design, pertain to website and application development. Seeing as I’m building my own personal website, hard-coding HTML at my job, and am more generally interested in hearing good design tips, I found this a quick, worthwhile read. Harris’s eight steps are simple starting point solutions that will help gear your interface in the “good design” direction:
After glancing at my “Daily Dose” e-mail from Talent Zoo to find some quick reads, I nearly stopped dead in my tracks when I came across this article title: “Putting Tweets Under the Tree This Holiday.” What an interesting concept, I thought, and sure enough I clicked the link.
The Barbarian Group created the Tweet Wrap website to promote Samsung’s “boosted” RF510 laptop; it allows users to create their own Twitter-themed wrapping paper for the holiday season. With the first 3,000 orders being free, I gave it a whirl with nothing to lose, choosing my own background pattern and personal tweet threads to customize my paper. And let’s face it. In today’s world, customization is a growing expectation among the majority, a “desired future,” and a necessary product feature or component. Frankly, as the consumer, it is all about us—and that’s understandable. “What can you do for me?” is the question we should be asking ourselves when making a purchase or using a service.
Once you receive your customized wrapping paper in the mail, the user is encouraged to wrap a gift with it; upload a picture of your Tweetwrapped gift to the Boosted Facebook Page (sponsored by Samsung and Intel) and you will be entered for a chance to win the RF510! No matter how great your chance of winning is, it’s always fun to enter a competition with the “I really think I’m gonna win this time” mindset.
I have to admit, the site was quick, fun, and easy to use. Granted, I still got suckered into paying $2.50 to rush the shipping in time for Christmas—but it’s $2.50. Even so, I enjoyed engaging in a clever branding campaign driven by social media. Because social media is the way of our generation, it is the digital age, and it is part of our today and tomorrows. The article makes a valid point, and that is this: How will you, or your company more likely, use social media to involve its customers in creative ways this season? What is your strategy to help you “hit” the digital sweet spot head-on into the new year?
The impact of social media is prevalent and profound; every day, new technology ideas are designed and discussed as frequently as their tangible counterparts are prototyped and shelved. VP-global digital at Blackberry parent Research In Motion Brian Wallace said it right:
Success is about getting likes, or shares, or comments. Or maybe the person will click on an ad or post a photo or video he or she took with a Blackberry. In the end, it’s behavior-based. A Facebook fan has no value. Getting a Facebook fan to do something does.
“Snaps” for Samsung.