Introduction to design

Everything you see in the modern world has been designed. This technology: the gadgets you use, the vehicles you drive or were driven in, the words you speak and the letters you write didn’t exist once, they had to be imagined, and then created.

Some of this technology such as writing was designed and built thousands of years ago. Other things such as the tablet computer, smart phone and the personal computer have only been imagined and built in the past few decades.

So, if I were to ask you how many robots are in your home what would you say? You probably didn’t think of the washing machine, dishwasher and tumble dryer. These things are so every day that you probably didn’t even think of them as technology, they have simply disappeared from view and become part of the infrastructure of modern life.

If you’re reading this you are probably at the start of a career in design, and now couldn’t be a better time. We are now living through the most exciting period of technological innovation since the 1970. The rewards are massive, You can use advanced tools to design not just software but business in months rather than years. You can design for the desktop, web, phones, tablets and a myriad other devices and in the most part you can do it without thinking too much about it. The rewards are massive, but so are the risks.

The risks are that if you don’t design for how people understand and use technology then you will waste time and money creating product that no one will buy and no one can use. To meet the challenges of the fast paced nature of change, you must understand the principle of good design and this start with understanding one key fact.

Good design is all about understanding how to communicate the intention of a design and how to make that experience engaging. The 4 key principles of communicating design are:

  1. Signifiers – A signifier is a designed indication of how to use an object.
  2. Mapping – The relationship between an object and the thing it effects
  3. Feedback – The mechanism by which we understand if have/don’t have the intended result
  4. Conceptual model – Is the narrative of how the ‘user’ expects the designed object to work. They form this model through the use and experience of other things or by following social or designed signifiers.

The 2 key principle of creating engaging experience are:

  1. Sociable design – inclusion of empathy and understand of interruptions and unexpected events.
  2. Pleasure (Emotion) – Things work better then they look pretty, and/or make us feel good about ourselves.

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