Why Humans Need (Effective) Design

The Uncomfortable by Katerina Kamprani, www.kkstudio.gr

Maybe I spend too much time pondering, but recently I have been imagining what the world would be like without effective design. I preface design with the word effective, because design is inherent in every object. But, that’s no guarantee of its attractiveness, its value or its efficacy. I am interested in design that works, design that improves our lives – effective design.

So how would our lives change without effective design? Put simply, it would be harder to make day-to-day decisions.

As our world becomes more fast-paced, we receive messages from all directions and need to react to them appropriately. Sometimes these messages are interpreted one-by-one, but more often many messages have to be understood at once. Processing this flood of information comes at a cost: mistakes.

Mistakes can be as varied as selecting the wrong ATM option, making a business decision based on misinterpreted data, or worse case, making a decision that compromises others health or safety.

Although we may learn from experience, missteps shouldn’t be the only way to learn a new system. Allowing people to have bad experiences so they know “not to do it the next time” is not the best solution. There is a better way and it’s up to designers to take the lead.

We need to put more effort into the effectiveness of the tools we design. We need to test the effectiveness of our tools in a controlled environment before we release them to the world. We need to take responsibility for how we will impact other lives.

Effective design should:

  • Ensure maximum comprehension by removing mixed signals and ambiguity
  • Increase communication between individuals by removing obstacles
  • Foster collaboration through better communication tools and methods
  • Provide insight and direction to empower people to make important decisions

So what do you think? Are we there yet? How far do we need to go? What is exciting for me is that this need for innovation will never stop and the design element in every object is just waiting for some attention and appreciation.

View professional portfolio (credentials required)

The Author

Stephen is an experience designer in Portland, Oregon who collaborates with stakeholders on design research, information architecture, through interaction and visual design for services and software.