Nov
3
2010

Design candies are not for me

Design Candies are not for me

OUCH! My eyes hurt! Damn! Damn! Damn!

Damn those designers who make their designs pretty and wow. Screw you guys! Why the hell do you keep adding another beautiful element? Why do you beautify them so much? Why do you make them pretty? So pretty that I forget what I was there for?

Guess what? You guys are doing a great disservice to your clients – their users are lost in your ‘pretty’ design.  You are doing a great disfavor to yourself and designers by calling yourself ‘designers’. You are not f*cking designers!

Design is not web 2.0 or web 0.5.343.343.43.3. It’s not beautiful or ugly. It’s not any of that. When you say all that, it makes me wonder if you even know what ‘design’ means. Let me tell you what design means:

Design is Solving Problem of Effective Communication

Imagine this problem:

A scientist made a kick-ass laser device that he wants to sell to you. Now a designer who is designing the scientist’s website, has got these things to convey:

  • What is he Selling?
  • Why does his new Laser Rock?
  • Who should buy it?
  • What can it do for you?
  • How much does it cost?
  • Where and how to Buy?
  • Plus access to further information

And there is more:

He needs to convey all this in 5 seconds, in 900 by 500 pixels and to a specific target audience.

That’s a nice problem – challenge. This is where design starts – with a problem or a target or a thing to communicate. (Whatever you wanna call it). That’s what design is about – that’s when you choose 3 column or 2 columns or shit like that.

And in case you didn’t already guess it – that’s why they say that copy (written words) are part of design.

Design is Functional

You open your car doors every day. Most of you don’t even look at it – while opening. It’s intuitive – it works and doesn’t make you think. It functions – that’s design.

They don’t make it the way it is to make it ‘pretty’.

Where do I go?

Alright! Looks pretty - will make a good thing for CSS Gallery. But where do i go from here? Nah! Those blue questions are not clickable! Only the small menu at bottom. Usability fail!

Wow! So retro! Innit? No dude - that super contrast is hard on eyes. I never read what was written in that paragraph. Ouch!

That comes much later. They shape it on how it should function.

You don’t decide the shape of any element, rounded corners-or-not, gradient or not, to make it look pretty. That’s the worst way of doing it – you use it to make that element function in a way. That’s design!

Design is Usable

This is the ‘most’ important and ‘most’ ignored part of design. Wow, I mean, how can you make an unusable pretty site and call yourself a designer? I feel like shooting you dead!

I’ve seen sites and designers so indulged in CSS3 and hip jQuery effect that they forget why they had put them there to begin with. A search bar will expand, glow, wink at you, make your horny and do everything except search – that’s a usability fail.

Many end up putting up sites with equally shouting elements that makes no flow or hierarchy and confused user. Buttons hardly look like buttons, navigation is hidden somewhere in the name of engagement and what not.

Dude, no matter how ‘beautiful’ or jaw dropping your design is, if one can’t do what he/she came to do there, it’s a piece of sheer shit. Take that! If one can’t use a ‘design’, it’s useless. Or may be just good for CSS galleries.

Design is Type

A friend of mine calls himself a designer and doesn’t know a thing about type. It’s like calling yourself astronaut and not knowing what vacuum means.

Usable typography is design, since most of the content on the web, is written. What truly differentiates a great designer from a good designer is his ability to play with type.

That's the power of good type - it designs itself.

Design is Science & Art

Science deals with ‘Why? How? What?’ and Art is power of expression – combine the two and you get ‘Design’.

Expressing all of that with art, is design. It’s a science; it’s an art – best of both worlds. The more I study science – the more I see the great designer – Mother Nature. And the more I see, the more inspired I am, in art. I can’t give you a better example: Look at your hand. Just look at it! It’s a remarkable piece of science and design – latest robotics don’t even come close.

It doesn’t look pretty or ugly – it works and then people form their perception.

Conclusion

Best design is not designed. Best design is least designed. Best design is ugly – and it works.  Please call yourself a ‘digital graphic artist’ or something like that… but don’t call yourself a designer if you don’t understand design. You don’t belong in here, dude!

You are like the ‘Social Media Guru’ on twitter with 10,000 follower and 10,000 following who doesn’t care what others tweet and others don’t care what you tweet – it’s just a number game. Nothing social, no media…!

For all the designers reading this, are you actually a designer?

  • Aanchal Manchanda

    Its a very well written post. It clearly differentiates b/w a ‘good design’ and a ‘pretty design’..:)

    • http://www.kingsidharth.com King Sidharth

      Thanks Anchal. “Designers” need to know the difference between Beauty & Design – so wrote it :P

  • headbiznatch

    For all the bloggers who simplistically rip individual designs that don’t conform to his or her narrowly defined visual or UX ideals, and then attempt to extrapolate these armchair (and most importantly, TIRED) assessments into grand statements on the definition of “design”: are YOU actually a designer? or a writer? or any kind of valid web design critic possessing any kind of pedigree that justifies your petulant rants? No offense, but I think you need to spend some more time using the “world wide web” and publishing your own highly visible, critique-able designs before you get so uppity.

    • http://www.64notes.com King Sidharth

      Dear Rhett Brown,

      I’d have happily answered your questions. But you forgot to tell me if you were a designer. Sad innit?

      Please walk your talk.

      • headbiznatch

        King,

        It is YOU talking, right? This is your blog and your blog post, the one you hoped would spur a discussion? The one where you shared your ideas and analysis?

        Well, in my response to your post, I asked rhetorical questions to point out that this is a painfully shallow analysis of a very deep topic. You are opinionated and flippant, yet you back nothing up with your own work. That’s questionable, but not as serious as the fact that in your analysis, you made no real effort to discern or discuss the context of those designs, the intended audience, the goals of the designer, the goals of the site, etc. Then, when given the opportunity to dig deeper and respond with some actual substance, you are just evasive and snarky. Sad innit?

        That’s your choice. But my point still stands – this post, as it is, is simply noisy ranting about a couple designs you don’t like. If you feel like I need to prove who I am a little more before you care to address the points in my comment, that’s fine. It’s a tough way to go about blogging in my opinion, but hey, like I said – this is your blog and your post. You go about it your way. I am no one of import in the design world, just a passionate observer and practitioner, well-read in my own way and willing to jump into the fray to combat lazy posts like this. I firmly believe you can do more, and I sincerely hope you will.

        You’ve got my email and I am happy to talk more about it if you would like. I think it’s an important topic, worthy of deeper discussion.

        • http://www.64notes.com King Sidharth

          Oh! Don’t I love heart-felt comments! Eager to get your mail man. The blog is not mine but the blog post is – hence the blog too.

          Yes I didn’t back it up by any of my work – just don’t like it that way.
          To be honest, yes this was a rant – but that’s how I use my blogposts to express what I feel – be it pissed or inspired.

          Very true when you said that the analysis was not deep enough. I am gonna be careful about that in future.

          It was actually not about these two random designs – it was actually about what I wanted to talk about. Confession: Added those screenshots for the sake of it. (note to self: bad idea)

          I appreciate the time you took to highlight it man. Now it makes sense. And I cannot appreciate enough the expectations you put out to me – thanks a ton man. I know what you mean – I am gonna try my best to be there.

          Thanks for raising the bar for me, I might not have done that for myself – so God (can I say that?) sent you.

          Thanks a ton again! Let’s talk on mail.

      • http://www.pixelonomics.com/ Himanshu Khanna

        @King & @Rhett: Am I allowed to jump in, to clarify a few things?

        • headbiznatch

          For me, blog posts and comments are an open discussion. Any contribution is welcome…

          Per your request, maybe I, too, should clarify my goal in responding in the first place: I am hoping to encourage an obviously passionate and confident designer/blogger to post with a little more more rigor than “F*ck you, poseurs. I get it and you don’t.” Hasn’t that post been done a million times by now?

        • http://www.pixelonomics.com/ Himanshu Khanna

          @Rhett: Thanks for letting me in.
          This is an open ended community blog or atleast hoping to be.

          I am one of the co-founders. King is one of our regular contributors. Contributions are open to everyone with partial moderation.

          Your feedback, comments and contributions are more than welcome. And I appreciate the goal of your current comments.

        • headbiznatch

          @Himanshu: Cool. I am very glad I jumped into the discussion here.

          @King: Man, I understand. I am impulsive and sharp-tongued in real life, and I don’t censor myself very much. I do try harder when writing, but I just read my reply again and I certainly came back at you strongly. I’m glad you took it in stride so we could actually talk about it. My email address is where you got my real name for your first reply ;) All the best…

          • http://www.64notes.com King Sidharth

            Sure man! Let’s get talking!

  • http://nidhig.wordpress.com Nidhi

    A good read. Well structured and nicely written; and in a way, helpful too :)

  • http://www.pixelonomics.com/ Himanshu Khanna

    You’ve tried to touch upon a very sensitive and subjective topic here. Lets see to how many would understand and agree with what you want to convey here.

    As much as I agree with stuff specially mentioned under ‘design is functional’, I also happen to disagree on a couple of points. For instance, if a designer is not great in type or lets just say, he knows nothing about type, he can still be a great designer. I see it as a design specialization and some of us may not be specialized in it.

    Overall, I am happy that you voiced your opinion on the topic, kudos!

    • http://www.64notes.com King Sidharth

      True, a designer can be a designer without knowing his type. But they clarity and sophistication that comes with type is just… incomparable.

      Type makes a great designer great.

      Thanks for letting me post it here :)

  • http://www.pinksocks.wordpress.com Pallavi Puri

    Whoa…That was informative :) Keep them comin tiger!

    • http://www.64notes.com King Sidharth

      Thanks Pallavi!

  • http://inspirationfeed.com inspirationfeed

    I think this was a great read, i totally agree with what you have in mind. The wow factor is much ore hyped and we as designers think it has to be that way. But step back and take a look at it as a person that has no clue about, navigation, social media, wordpress, html, css, photoshop, basically anything that we all do know about. Usability is very important, so i agree with you 100%!

  • abhijeet makhijani

    nice read. a bit of a let down on u defending the title of a ‘designer’. like whats the big deal. “digital graphic artist or something” c’mon man …. i mean thr r good designers and thr are not so good ones…. the not so good ones cannot be called designers eh! and how am i to judge a designer? by his latest work? or by his best work? or by his worst? m not a designer bro but i am surrounded by designers all around for some reason and i have noticed most of them having an obsession about their designs. its sad to see. would love to have you throw some light on that! help us, ‘the janta’, understand designers better and help the designers understand the ‘janta’ better…..(i kno the latter bit is widely accalimed, but i also know its rarely true). overall awesome effort…….. hail the king!

    cheers!

  • davepm

    Too many so called ‘designers’ think that usability and prettiness are the same thing!

    I would much rather have an ugly site that a customer could use easily, find what they needed etc (in which case they wouldn’t even notice that the site is fugly!), than a beautiful, pretty, sexy site with 0 usability.

    It requires a whole new ethos to work, it must be re-learned by designers that USABILITY IS MORE IMPORTANT than all those bells and whistles!

  • http://www.64notes.com King Sidharth

    Man! You speak my heart!

    Help me get the word out, and bust those bells and whistles!

  • http://Michaelcritz.com Michael Critz

    I agree wholeheartedly that design fails when it degrades into aimless decoration.

    However, design is not merely about usability. It’s also about aesthetics. If everyone wanted highly efficient, function-driven experiences, then we would all shop at Sam’s Club & drive minivans.

    Humans have complicated psychological needs. People want experiences that reflect their identity, past, culture, & values. That’s the goal of design: to present information in the context of the human condition.

  • http://www.64notes.com King Sidharth

    True!

    Usability is not the only thing I am voting up here. Every thing in design should have a reason – aesthetics have a strong reason to be, as you’ve nicely explained in your comment, but ‘logic-less decoration’ does not.

  • Lyder

    Good article. I really like your approach about design and I agree with that.

    I always try to think about conception, user navigation and elements who needs to highlight.
    Isn’t so easy to apply as well… So I always ask some feedback because the design of a web site isn’t for me. I’m not the target.

    Design is the job challenge of a Designer.

    • http://www.KingSidharth.com King Sidharth

      That’s a good way of approaching it.
      I usually start with “What & Why?”
      to find the “How” :)

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