Design is a simple entity, yet a part of everything around us. It is amazing how the design of a thing can enable or disable us from doing our routine work. Even simple activities such as opening doors and switching on lights or other appliances are influenced greatly by design.
Many of us ‘pull’ doors which clearly say ‘push’ and feel dumb, while it’s actually because of the bad design. Our mind interprets design before we can interpret written instructions. When a door labelled ‘push’ has huge handles, they automatically signal our brain to grab hold of them and pull the door. The best design is fairly simple and does not require written instructions. A door that doesn’t have handles can only be pushed, and the one with handles should open through pull.
This simple analogy follows up in the design of everything around us. When we enter a large hall with numerous lights and fans, we become pianists and begin hitting all the switches till we find the right switch. A simple way to avoid this is a switchboard design that maps the actual order in which the lights and fans are placed. E.g., if there are three rows of fans, there should be three rows for switches as well, wired in the order of arrangement of the fans. The closest fan should have the first switch and so on.
Smart phones are a brilliant example of good and effective design. The minimal use of buttons makes it easy for us to use these phones. Car music systems usually have multiple keys which make them complicated to access. For a good design, we should only see what is required; any extra element of design, such as too many buttons, only make the design more complicated.
A lot of designers ignore the basic design of objects in the temptation to make them visually appealing. What is the use of a beautiful kettle that is incapable of pouring tea/coffee? It will only serve as a showpiece.
An object cannot be defined without stating the actions that it performs. These basics when intact, form the foundation of good design. We can safely conclude that a good design is minimal, simple, and clear.