Endless Twitter spats, design semantics, and a chat about the nuances between design and business.

It seems as designers, we like to spit our opinions, and meddle in petty arguments that really don’t matter at the end of the day.

Let’s face it, we’re some of the most opinionated personalities that animate the internet, yet some of the most insecure “roll with the crowd” people, too.

However sometimes we have to argue, debate, and bitch with each other. Sometimes there are important topics that flare up on what makes design different. Or what makes design, design. So with that in mind…

Here are a few topics that get me a bit heated 🙂

 

01 — UI is UX, bruh!

Here we go again. Design Twitter is blowing up with people casting stones from the belly of 140 characters.

Visual design is “this”. Function is the only thing that matters. UI design is easy. UX is where real designers work…

Friends. It’s 2017. Effective products these days have proven with customers that good design needs both!

User interface design (visual, digital, art) is the tangible, visual layer of any given experience. It’s what you see on a website. It’s the layout, type, colors, and white space of an app. It’s also what helps to create how you feel happy, sad, angry, or claustrophobic. The UI ties into branding, and evokes an emotional response in your brain.

User experience design is literally everything about the design. Information architecture, navigation, way-finding, interaction design, content, as well as UI design.

UI design is a subset of UX design. There is no equal, as what you’re seeing, feeling, and using (the UI), is part of your individual experience with any given product. This is why the function vs form debate is complete bullshit.

However, when most people talk about UX, they’re referring to the guts, usability, and functionality of said design; how the thing works, or why it solves the problem at hand.

UI and UX go together to complete a design (interactive / product design). And while UI is UX, UX is not confined to UI.

Disagree with me? Take it up with Frank Lloyd Wright.

If you’d like to see a furthered breakdown in detail, check it out here.

 

02 — Good design is emotional, dammit!

This is a point on visual design. A bit like the last paragraph, we’re talking about “form vs function”.

Form follows function. Don’t let the skin of an app or experience dictate the design. Don’t focus on skin over architecture. Don’t…

When I read between the lines of a sea of Tweets through-out the week, all I hear is an argument about process.

Do we focus on sketching, wireframes, and great UX of a digital product before the “coat of paint” (by the way I f***ing hate that analogy as it’s a terribly mis-labeling of the science behind aesthetic design)?

Sure.

In most cases, we’ll focus on the function part of the problem. Because from a process standpoint, you’re going to have better results when you start with the user journey, strategizing within the problem space, before jumping into the UI solution space. That’s fine…but…

That, won’t be true in all cases. Sometimes it may work the other way around, where a project must start with the visual side.

It’s a process issue…not a staple of good design philosophy. You need both to move the needle; marketing website, OR digital product utility. How companies, agencies, and freelancers get to the end result, is up to them and their process. Don’t forget, everyone is making this stuff up as they go. We’re all guessing to the best of our abilities.

However, a lot of people crap on visual design, as if it’s easy; as if it doesn’t matter! Woooowwww.

To bring anyone who doesn’t know me up to speed, I spend most of my day in a hardcore UX seat, designing on a core app for eBay. I don’t get to do a ton of UI design (a huge passion of mine), where I can push the brand further (a little bit, but not much).

Yet, what do so many users bitch about when they use anyone’s product?

 

“This design feels out-dated!”

“This is not what design is supposed to look like on Android!”

“Why are there drop-shadows??”

 

They notice the look and feel first (usually opinions are made about the presumed quality of your app in a matter of seconds), and a gravitational experience second (usability, slowness, etc.).

Good design (a mature blend of holistic design: UI+UX) should evoke an emotional response in the target audience, and it usually does one way or another.

Sure, you might be building an app that operates as a tool. Do users completely dismiss UI in this case? Show them the same type of app with a sexier UI, and guess which one they’ll pick. Most likely the better looking one. People are not robots. People have feelings, and they’re usually more than willing to let you know how much they love or hate your work.

This is because we’re human. The laws of attraction are deep within our core nature, and there’s no getting around it. A user doesn’t look at a house and wonder how well it operates on the level of efficiency first…they’ll notice the paint first!

Logic sets in, and people realize that changing the paint is a relatively quick fix, but nonetheless, usually the way something looks is thought about before the way something functions.

However, would you buy a house without considering the foundation? The plumbing? The age, layout, and electronics of a house? Of course not!

Both scenarios should connect with the user on an emotional front…Websites should evoke excitement, and inspiration to keep exploring towards that user’s goal. The last thing you want to to design a product based on function, and let the visual design look like everything else…because when someone lands on your website, they’ll instantly leave. You missed the boat. You thought like an engineer or project manager…rather than a eager user.

 

03– Good design puts money in the bank, and at the same time, doesn’t have to!

I get it. I really do. Art is a statement, and design is problem solving for others. Usually, design is the bread-winner of the two. However, I hate it when those “others” are perceived as paying clients only.

Design is a means to an end; a result…data. The metric curve of that data may tell you how much money a given solution created, but it could also tell you if your solution made a difference in behavior of the customer. One that puts some good, positivity, or sudden spike into society.

Who said design can’t be something you’re working on for others, that you are interested in? That’s not art. It’s just a different angle of design. You’re still problem solving for a select group of people. You’re simply motivated to move through it for something more than money.

People act like design is all about business. Like it’s only about money, or you’re a simple amateur. Roll your eyes, and brush past them.

I don’t trust people who are about the money in design alone. Honestly, I think those are some of the most dangerous people in the creative business because they’ll make solutions that speak to whoever the hell will pay the most for them. It’s irresponsible, and I think while dangerous, they’re weaker designers for it.

All in all, we need to be careful about how we think about design. It’s a great vehicle for delivering value to people. It’s a great medium for making money. But with great capability, comes great responsibility.