Invisible design

Invisible design

You open a door, you climb a set of stairs, you swipe your screen to see the next photo. You do so without thinking who designed that piece of interaction. You look at your ticket and you’re able to find where you’re sitting. Again, you do so without considering the thought and design behind it. You walk into a shop, stroll to the aisle with the item you want, pick it off the shelf, and walk straight to the till, pay, and stroll out. Seemed pretty easy and natural right?

Other times it’s difficult to open a door, awkward to climb stairs, nearly impossible to find your seat number on a ticket, or it takes forever just to buy a tube of toothpaste. That’s often when people notice design - when it’s bad. At least I do.

It’s hard, at times, to be the designer who’s skill is measured by how little people notice. Their designs fade into the background, go unnoticed and let you get on with life in an efficient manner. It’s easier to feel appreciated if you’re a designer who creates beautiful artefacts and striking images. However, when you begin to see invisible design it changes the way you perceive design. It would seem that these invisible designs are the ones that last longest.

I’d like my designs to be this way.

Try have a look at all the things you hold, turn, squeeze, press, flick, swipe, push, view, watch and shake. Your design may improve, and you’ll appreciate what few have appreciated before.

Upside down keyholes, clockwise-or-is-it-anti-clockwise doorknobs

Buttons, lights, instructions

Unscrewing lids & lightbulbs