Design For All – The Intentionality Behind Good Designs
Design exists all around us. In your environment, everywhere you look, the products you use, engagements you make, all are created by design.
Design is the essential tool humans need to measure out life’s perspectives and build on the reality we live in.
Think of any possible digital or physical product you have used at home, at the office, on the street, at your grocery store, on local transportation, on airplanes, at airports, at supermarkets – design exists everywhere around us.
Good design is about facilitating seamless interactions between a customer and the providing services.
Depending on where you are in the world, design standards vary from one nation to the other. 6 billion out of 7 billion people on this planet have access to mobile phones more than toilets.
Humanity is being engulfed by digital technology, all our information lives on heaps of data stored in digital clouds. Yet, for many reasons, our surrounding worlds are still messy. People need help, getting on a bus, retrieving information, getting access to services, whatever the case may be. Design is not a movement, it is an important asset to modern life.
Everything we say, do, or experience is by design. Good design metrics are very subjective. Some products are more useful to customers than others. Design is measured by its necessity and value that it brings to people.
Now, when product owners and creators who mass-produce products for billions of people in existing markets, they must carry a moral responsibility towards the legibility, form, function, and quality of design. This means that design must be intentional, design is integral to life, design must be ethical.
Currently, design is not governed by any universal committee that standardizes aesthetics, form, and functionality within the context of product designs. This means that if you are a creator and have a great idea, then you might just build your product and ship it out to the world. But what about design accreditation? Think of it as quality assurance for any product that must go under tests to qualify before being placed in the market.
Quality standards and design metrics remain in blurry lines. People wonder all the time how an ugly logo that belongs to an important person or a business was shipped out to the world looking like that.
This amazes me as a researcher, when something designed so poorly is out in the market for millions of customers to use. There are no design rules set in place, design is a very subjective principle. However, we must ensure as design-thinkers that what we are creating is useful and would never cause harm to any person.
How might we live in a world where design requirements must be met with standard qualifications to pass as good design?
These metrics are difficult to come across. Recently, there was a dispute that broke out on Twitter about why designers should not create for everyone universally, stretching design too thin. Different tastes appeal differently to people. Design should be universal, but how can designers cater for larger audiences?
In part, it is true that you can’t design to cater for every person in the world. It depends, is the main answer.
There are so many underlying questions based on fear coming from developers who at times may not know who they’re designing for. That is why as researchers, it is crucial we understand product goals and specifications before we right a line of code or develop resources for product development.
Many design schools talk about design scalability. Basically, when designing for a large audience it comes down to three main actions that everyone working on a product must take before moving forward.
These steps below help designers and researchers understand the products they are building to know more about their potential customers.
1 – Observe & Empathize
Observation lies in the technique of ethnography. Empathy lives at the heart of any good product design. To be able to sit with folks and know where they’re coming from, especially those who are not from your background, per-say, can be a difficult task.
For researchers and designers, make sure to listen to your customers carefully, watch them closely, and don’t formulate personal opinions or interrupt with personal biases. Empathy occurs naturally while observing others in a natural state which is a crucial asset to experience design.
Empathy means to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and to be fully aware of the surroundings that lead to their decision making. The most important factor in creating products is to empathize with your customers and understand where they are coming from (metaphorically and physically), and, in some cases, truly understand the issues behind why they can’t use your product.
Some questions we can ask before meeting our customers?
- What related services are people currently using?
- Who is the target audience and how can we build a journey that relates to the product they’re using?
Formulating questions, maybe if you have a team, sets you up as a product designer for conducting successful customer interviews with outcomes that enhance product development.
2 – Immerse & Define
Is a successful anthropological technique where you fully formulate hypotheses to understand the problem at hand. As a software developer, gaining user insight will help you relate to your team and report back to identify what you will build and what will go in the designs based on the audiences you are catering towards.
3 – Engage & Ideate
Engage is to understand how the user will interact with the product you are building. In a week, we now live in a time where designs can be created and pushed out to the public as mock designs to test if designs make sense. If not, we go back to the drawing board, iterate our designs, and invite potential customers back to discuss implementation of these enhanced designs.
We want to create a world where we can understand exactly where design goes and work towards a moral responsibility that design must be catered for all with good intentions.