About the author: Philip Lindblom is the Founder of 1000designers, a company located in Stcokholm, Sweden, that is passionate about making high-end graphic and product design accesible to businesses and agencies. The name of the company comes from his goal to gather the top 1,000 designers in the world and he has currently found 103. He also enjoys industrial design, architecture, music and Forumula 1.
Getting the design, user interface, and user experience of your app right is the single most important factor that will decide the level of success of your application. Get it right and you’ll be cruising up the stairway to app heaven. Get it wrong, and it doesn’t matter at all how good your initial idea was.
I think we can all agree on the fact that applying a flawless GUI to a great idea is not easy. It takes time, the right people and the right mindset. And since the idea that UI / UX is actually something mission critical is still so new, there isn’t yet even really a profession for it, let alone a comprehensive education program.
If you’re a business looking around for talent to create that awe-inspiring experience for your users, what do you look for? A graphic designer? Someone with a degree in Applied Systems Science, a PhD in Psychology, or someone with a diploma in Human Computer Interactions?
Or all of the above?
The whole front-end design sphere is still like an early morning New York intersection, where people are slowly waking up, preparing to repair and rebuild 20 years of careless, ugly and unusable interfaces.
So what should we do? What guidelines should we follow? Since an application is so much more than just a great idea, how do we execute it to near perfection, with limited resources?
A little while back, I created The Formula For Good Software, a very simple formula, loosely based on Dieter Ram’s 10 Principles For Good Design, that can be applied into every single aspect of application design and the application-to-market-presentation. Let's take a look at the Formula and why in this day and age, especially when it comes to the web…less really is more.
A formula is organic in its form and sometimes through careful iteration, testing and development, it can be improved. I can never be entirely sure if my formula will withstand the test of time, or if it will need to be improved upon, but at this stage of software design, this is what I believe is the formula for good software:
From the big idea down to the finest level of detail, well crafted software will be the definition of innovation and subsequently generate a need or want. Although the idea of a solution can be desirable, a solution in itself can never be valuable, unless properly executed.
Well executed software is as efficient as it can be in every considerable aspect. A user will only consider it valuable when the user’s current problem is being solved in an effective manner.
The effectiveness of software and thus the level of execution, is measured by how understandable and accessible the process of solving the problem is, as well as the technology used to solve the problem. It must be a clear, well structured, powerful and ultimately a visibly rewarding process.
Beautiful software is visually flawless and meticulously well designed down to the last detail. Nothing appears overlooked or coincidental.
But only well executed software can truly be beautiful. Good software solves real problems and therefore, aesthetics can only add value if it makes the product even more useful and understandable. It does not manipulate the user with promises that cannot be kept by trying to make it look more valuable or innovative than it really is.
Unless we collect and analyze data about our decisions, it's impossible to know if they were good or bad. It is not possible to build good software solely on assumptions and theories.
Otherwise it will only ever be as good as the person who designed it, as software from the moment of initiation will be built on the designers personal preferences, experiences and intuitions. There will be places where the designer's assumptions and theories will be wrong, and there will be places where the designer will have to take leaps of faith and make guesses.
Software is organically ever changing, growing and improving and is therefore never completed. The room for improvement and the possibilities for innovation will never cease to exist. Technological innovations, improvements, and advancements will always enable innovative design and execution, just as innovative, improved and advanced design enables new innovative technology.
Good software has an absolutely unique, clear and understandable value proposition. Visual or literate, but should in its essence explain and clarify the ultimate value the software will bring to the user as a result of using the software. Something that will be valued so intensely by a prospect, the value statement alone could be worth paying for.
I hope that this formula has given you a few things to think about when it comes to the design of your app and will help you create apps that are both beautiful and functional. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.
Is there anything that I may have missed? Let me know in the comments below.
Photo Credits: NY Street by patrick_nouhailler via Flickr CC, Construction by mugley via Flickr CC