Design is how things work, not how they look. Aesthetics are a by-product of good design.
Today, as I walked back to the office from lunch, a woman who did not understand the mechanics of a parking meter, stopped me. “Excuse me sir, can I ask you a question? I’ve put in a dollar in quarters into the meter and it says forty minutes, but I don’t see any buttons to accept this. Do I need to do anything else?”
“No ma’am, your all set,” was my reply.
In a world of menus, sub-menus, prompts, find-it-yourself customer service and pop-up windows, she had forgotten the simple, very analog, workings of a park meter.
“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
This was actually in line with a conversation I had recently had with a client, regarding an ad campaign I had created for them. It had been going through the approval process and after getting rave reviews from their internal marketing and design teams it was hung up with a particular person who “wanted more in the ad.” They were looking for more graphics per square inch. I gave them a quick preview as to what they were asking for and they killed it. The ad campaign worked in that it portrayed a large amount of information in a clean layout. The graphics per square inch approach just didn’t work.
In a world the constantly serves us overly complex design solutions in out TV/computer/phone/drive-through restaurant menus and bombards us with an overflow of information, we can easily lose sight of clean and simplified design solutions that get the message across to its desire audience, clutter free.