The best designs come from not one, but hundreds of well-made decisions. The worst designs arise out of hundreds of poorly-made decisions. All that stands between you and a great design is the quality of your decisions.
The best designs come from not one, but hundreds of well-made decisions. The worst designs arise out of hundreds of poorly-made decisions. All that stands between you and a great design is the quality of your decisions. Where do they come from?
— Jared Spool
Deciding on consistent button colors. How do you make design decisions? What kind of designer are you?
About a month ago I came across a video of a presentation given by Jared Spool, Anatomy of a Design Decision. The video below is a little over an hour long and has some good information about how we make design decisions.
5 Types of Design Decision Styles
In comparing different companies that build great user experience and those that try to, but don’t quite deliver, Jared’s firm identified the following.
- Unintentional — design that just happens
- Self — designing for yourself
- Genius — designing for others based on experience and research
- Activity focused — design based on the activities users want to take
- Experience focused — designing for the overall experience
Any of the above can be a legitimate way to design a site. As with everything, each has its pros and cons. What’s important is to know which style of design decision making you’re using on a project and to be consistent with that style for the entire project.
Unintentional design is what evolves when no conscious design has been applied. It just happens, usually when you’re designing something else.
For example you know you need a web page with a form so you build the form. Then you realize the page needs somenavigation so you add a few links. After that you notice there’s plenty of room on the page so you add a sidebar and add some new information.
The overall design ultimately just happened as you built each of the parts without any conscious thought to the whole.
Unintentional design tends to serve technology and not people. Forms mimic the database. Error messages aren’t especially user friendly.
Unintentional design attempts to be helpful, however it’s reactive to something missing or a problem people are having and it supplies a quick fix.
On the positive side unintentional design is the least expensive way to design. You just make something work and in some cases it really doesn’t matter if the user interface isn’t great. You might be training people to use it for example.