The Designer’s Mind: Translated

Ali Guinn

April 27, 2011

The creative individual in me isn’t always easy to understand. I find myself butting heads with my significant other over things such as how the grain jars sit on the counter; they need to be arranged asymmetrically, not flush against the wall. A mindset I know would drive another person crazy. However, when I suppress it, it directly effects my mood, just because it doesn’t “feel” right.

There are a few rules I like to remember when designing.

  • Hick’s Law: When given a choice between items, we tend to divide the number of choices in half to simplify it. We do this until we get down to two choices in the end. The less time this takes, the better. The goal of the designer is to make this process as easy and quick as possible for the user. Take for example, the navigation on your website. Although you offer 2,000 things, we don’t want to be given 2,000 choices. We would rather click a button that we know will direct us to that option.
  • Conservation of Complexity: The design is finished when you cannot remove any more elements without breaking it. We’re trying to make the process from A to B as easy as possible for the consumer. Good design is more than function and aesthetics: good design can infuse your product with heart and soul, giving your consumer that “gut” feeling that this product was made for them. It’s hard to differentiate yourself when you merely copy what’s already out there. This is where your hyper-sensitive designer comes in handy to pay attention to the small details, monitor and translate the design trends. Our job is to give your product that “oomf” that won’t let the consumer leave without it.
  • Change is Constant: Everything inside the design world is permanently changing, whether you’re on board or not. It is evolving and adapting into new ways of expression and communication to satisfy new consuming needs. Change really is the only constant—the moment we stop is the moment we fall behind the curve.
  • Design Freebies: KISS (Keep it simple stupid), Differentiate (when everybody zigs, zag), Evolve (keep it fresh and new)

So, although at times it may be annoying, at least the design community has let me know my “obsessive compulsive” behaviors are “normal.” And no, my short attention span isn’t “Attention Deficit Disorder,” it’s just that I am constantly looking to be visually stimulated. My occupational therapist tells me to embrace the part of me that “feels too much,” and says it’s perfectly normal behavior to have to rearrange my room every time it needs cleaning. Or at least if I had an occupational therapist that’s just what I think they’d say.