In defence of designing slowly

Estimated read time: 10 minutes

In defence of designing slowly

It's great that social media has given rise to short videos of people designing things so quickly. It helps to demonstrate that complex designs can be broken down into more simple, individual steps.

There's videos that are less than 30 seconds that can help you:

  • Animate text
  • Create a loading spinner
  • Make a carousel

The videos go through the visual designs of the components in prototyping software very quickly, but don't stop to ask why.

Why would a user want their text animated? It could be distracting if used incorrectly.

Why would a user want a loading spinner? It doesn't convey any progress to a user, it just loops infinitely, expecting that a user will wait patiently.

Why would a user want a carousel? Carousels seem to be used when content has not been designed and prioritised thoughtfully.

You're not designing as entertainment

The key question should be, what do your users need?

if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail

If you go into designing, planning on using lots of these quick designs, you'll find lots of places to add them. Visually, they look interesting and capture your attention, but is that helpful for people who need to use your website or app?

Write using plain language and ensure that users can find what it is they need to complete their tasks. Prioritise content appropriately and try to start with one thing per page, to avoid overloading pages with content.

Designs don't need to be made in less than 30 seconds. If you've used a lot of websites, you've probably identified some patterns or processes that feel like they've been designed in 30 seconds. Patterns come and go, but wasting somebody's time with a "flashy" design will always be shit design.

How would people interact with it

When working in design roles, the most difficult part is conveying and clearly communicating how people will interact with your designs. It's a key area where designers must focus their attention to ensure that designs are inclusive and accessible to as many people as possible.

These quick videos contain no information about user interaction at all.

  • Can a user pause the animation of text if it is distracting?
  • How will somebody using a screen reader know that a loading indicator is present? Will there be a text alternative?
  • How will somebody using only a keyboard operate the carousel in order to access all the content within it?

Making sure that users can find information and can complete their tasks is the job of a designer.

In isolation, these interesting - albeit purposeless - designs done quickly do not solve problems. They can trivialise the design process and move the focus away from what the user needs.

Written by

Joe Lamyman

@JoeLamyman

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