When we treat UI/UX design as an art, we do the wrong thing. First, it promotes the misconception that good design is subjective. As you will understand from this article, good design is objective – it has measurable criteria that we can use to assess its value.
Further, treating design as an art contributes to the misconception that design is an innate skill that cannot be taught. You don’t need an innate artistic talent like Picasso to master the design of digital products. Good design can be taught, and that’s why I wrote this article.
Finally, treating design as an art seriously limits your options. Good design empathizes with the user and solves their problems creatively. When we treat design as an art, we tend to prioritize aesthetics and visuals over usability and problem solving, which will result in a highly limited product (11 out of 10 cases).
Good UI/UX design always starts with empathy
If science and design both solve problems, empathy is a prerequisite for both industries. How can you effectively solve a problem for someone if you don’t know their priorities, cognitive and physical limitations, and other needs? When science cannot start with empathy, it offers the wrong solution to the wrong problem for the wrong stakeholders. It’s the same with UI/UX design.
Let’s have a look at the example. When COVID-19 hit Boston, many of our city’s officials and sociologists realized that we had quite a few important workers. We’re talking about medical professionals, public transport workers, grocery store employees. They had a huge number of people who, due to the nature of their work, simply could not work remotely, and many of these people simply cannot afford frequent testing in private medical institutions. These important workers also have contact with hundreds of people every day, so these workers must be healthy. Thus, the city authorities realized the problem of the need for several free testing centers.
Good design follows scientific methods
Some of the greatest works of art began not with hypotheses, but with inspiration. While a designer needs to have multiple sources of inspiration, it’s just not practical to do so for every single website or application. I am currently working with a client to develop a financial reporting and aggregation tool. A product created by accountants for accountants. No amount of time spent watching Dribbble shots or watching the sunsets fill me with the monumental desire to design accounting software that will change my life. Instead, good design must conform to scientific methods.
Good design can be taught
Perhaps one of the longest discussions in the art world, the question of whether art can be taught. I think the arguments for both points of view are partly right. The student can learn the correct brush painting technique. The student can learn to control the camera. The student can study music theory. But writing a masterpiece, capturing breathtaking photographs, and composing a truly remarkable piece of music often requires a certain level of innate talent. On the other hand, great UI/UX design doesn’t require a natural genius. Like the world’s greatest scientists, the world’s greatest designers have acquired their skills through extensive research. To prove this point, let’s look at the work of two world-renowned scientists and two world-class design agencies.
And finally – diligence is the mother of success ?