What is Design?
I believe this is the most cliched question that every designer had faced and the problem is there is no single answer to that. Everybody has their own answers.
Every team, every organisation has its own definition and understanding of what the design is. And the problem is that most organisation and teams only focus on one part of the design, and that is how it looks. Design is not just about making things looks good, and making them delightful, instead, Design is much more than that, before the visuals and design processes, Design is all about collaboration and communication.
Before taking the user research and pixels, we designer really need to start communicating about design. Because design is something which helps in initiating a thorough communication among the organisation at an individual level, team level and also product level.
Let’s explore one by one.
At the individual level,
Let me first share with you a recent thing which I faced while applying for a design role.
Recently I applied in one of the startups for a design role, and I would be their first designer. So after a normal telephonic round, the next thing is the design exercise and I was prepared for that but this was not something they were interested. Rather they gave me a proposal to come to their office and work with their team for 2–3 days so that they can understand how I communicate with team members, understand the problems that the team is facing and How I am going to solve them. They believed that giving a design exercise cannot really tell them how I am going to communicate and work with them. So they come up with this idea. And It was something very exciting for me.
This made me realise that design has much more value than aesthetics and problem-solving. Design is more about communication and collaboration. And when you join a company as an individual, then the first thing we, designers must do is, we need to start communicating well. Perhaps, If you join a well design-focused company, you might not face that much problems, but when you join a small team or you are the only designers in a team of developers, then it really becomes important for you to make your team realise the real potential of design beyond the visual design and user research. And this could be only possible when you start communicating with everyone on the team.
Design helps you in communicating your design process and ideas with others, and if you don’t communicate well, then the things will become really hard for you to work with. Because in a team, full of technical and analyst people, there will be only you who is communicating about design before picking up with the pixels and making the product beautiful.
At the team level,
Design at a team level helps teams to tackle problems together. And you can really solve a problem when you communicate well and understand each other words and their language.
Design helps teams to be on the same page every time. And when there is no design in the team, you would find that every person in the team is designing the product thing in their own way and understanding, there is no single language. Which eventually make the product a total mess in the end.
The reason why we build a design-language for a product is to make our teams speak and follow a single language to build something great. And when you and your team decide on the principles that they are gonna follow while building something great, then the communication becomes easy and powerful. Everyone understands the common goal of the team. Design helps teams to communicate in a single language.
Designs main goal is to keep everyone on the same page with a common vision of building something great for people.
At a product level,
Every product speaks something. And you can tell much about the companies beliefs by looking at their products and using them.
The design of a product is the real communicator to its users. And when this does not communicates well, then users don’t take time to replace that with a better communicating product. Although, every product helps people to solve their problems and to solve people problems your product needs to understand their needs and concerns, and if your product doesn’t do it well, then people would find alternatives.
Trust and respect is the language of Airbnb.
Simplicity and minimalism is the language of Google.
Aesthetic and Innovation is the language of Apple.
You know there are billions of product out there in the market, but the only products that become successful are which communicates well with its users and help them do and achieve things every day.
To make a product successful, its design requires effective communication with end-users. Each product through its interface design needs to tell users what it can do for them, how they can use it and why they should really care about using that product.
The products with a lack of communication will always find its permanent place in the stores rather than in the hands of people.
Good design always creates a language for your product to communicate with users and help them solve their problems.
So before the aesthetics and problem solving, Design is a way to communicate and share ideas. And not only designers, but the team can leverage the power of design to be on the same page and creating a product which communicates well its end-users.
Just remember, Other than aesthetics, user research and problem-solving, Design is a kind of language which evokes a thorough communication at an individual level, team level and also at a product level you are working on it.