good design

It’s a common belief that when designs work well, they go unnoticed, fading into the background of our lives. This idea seems to stem from phenomenology, with concepts like ‘ready-to-hand‘ and ‘present-to-hand‘ suggesting that we only truly notice things when they fail or don’t work as intended. While this is true to an extent, it’s important to challenge this notion and recognize that we notice and appreciate good design when it’s present.

In our everyday lives, we constantly encounter examples of good design that stand out, from the buttery smooth glide of a great gel pen (love those..) to the satisfying thud of a well-crafted car door (love those, too). These types of experiences draw attention and spark admiration for the careful thought and effort that went into their creation.

The notion that good design goes unnoticed might stem from the idea that if something works well, it becomes a natural extension of our bodies. However, when a design is truly exceptional, it can elevate our experience and leave a lasting impression.

Take, for example, the simple act of slipping on a comfortable running shoe. We notice and appreciate how it hugs our feet, providing support and cushioning. We notice the materials used and the construction that makes the shoe durable and easy to wear. The shoes change the experience of standing, walking, and running. The design is far from invisible.

In the digital realm, we appreciate well-designed interfaces that allow us to navigate websites and apps, making our online experience efficient and, at times, joyful. When a design is intuitive and aesthetically pleasing, it’s hard not to notice and appreciate the work that went into creating it.

Good designs get attention for the qualities that make them good. By acknowledging the impact good design has on our daily lives, practitioners can better understand their users’ needs, emotions, and experiences, ultimately leading to more thoughtful and innovative solutions.

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