Design Should Disappear

June 18, 2012

A well designed product is a bridge between technology and the user. It makes a connection that otherwise wouldn’t be there. Products serve a utility and overly designed ones, that try to draw attention to themselves, never make that connection as smooth as possible.

Think about when you buy a new TV. Roaming around the store you’re very aware of the design of each set, but once you’ve decided and brought one home, design isn’t nearly as important and your attention turns to what you can watch on it. For you to think much about the design of that TV again, it’ll probably be because something is wrong with it — the picture is dropping, the remote confuses you, etc.

Interfaces are the same way. They are tools that after an initial assessment by the user to determine trust, quality, and character, they should fall to the background, operate in a support role, and largely get out of the way. The user is using your product to connect to your site’s unique content, not your fancy design. Products designed to attract undue attention to themselves become annoying and the novelty gets in the way of that product’s utility and its ultimate success.

As our lives get filled with more and more distractions, interface designers should be building bridges and not works of art. Design should disappear.