It’s Subjective, Inconsistent and Risky
That title has probably given you doubts about writing capabilities already. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate consistent and symmetrical design. It’s something that I have never believed in, nor have I executed such User Experiences. Designers all over the world have from the beginning of time have applied design principals to their ‘user friendly’ applications or websites. However, over the years, a certain controversial debate has stirred up in the design community — “Are we actually designing for humans, or for machines”.
Exclamation of Subjectivity !
Both User Experience and User Interface designing is a subjective practice. No matter how experienced or fluent you are with your skills, you can never design something which pleases every single human being. This works in the case of devices too, since you can’t design a single interface or experience which works well with every device.
This is where customization comes in. Customization in the right sense means giving desirable access to the users over certain controls or look and feel of the app. A great example of the right amount of customization is Medium itself.
The ‘night mode’ on Medium is a great example of subjectivity of design embraced into an application. To me, it’s much more comfortable on the eyes and also looks much more subtle with the use of a charcoal grey. To someone else, the normal mode might be more pleasing or usable.
Other services like Twitter and Youtube have their own versions of the night mode.
“ Rather than taking Subjectivity as a negative, Embrace it “ — Yours truly
To Be or Not to Be Consistent
Consistency is a word every User Experience designer is familiar with and implies the principals of consistency in his/her designs too. Consistency, however, is meant to be and should be just a choice that a designer makes. The designer must choose between making the app look structured and consistent all throughout the user flow, or make the flow more exciting and less of a structured product. Remember opening a cereal box as a kid? Not to eat cereal, but to find a new exciting toy to add to your collection? The box looks the same, but the content makes buying cereal more exciting and appealing. This means that design should be consistent when content is king.
Youtube is a good example of this; You barely focus on the design since you’re ‘distracted’ by the exciting content. An app like a to-do list requires something new at every turn to keep the user engaged and using the app, since there is not much content involved.
In this beautiful design created by Johny vino, you can see how the analytics section is not exactly consistent but makes the contents and data look exciting and different from the rest of the app. ‘Strict consistency’ is not always the way to go.
Following Design Trends or Not?
Design trends like responsive logos and bold typography are cool and should be taken seriously. However, following design trends for the sake of it or because it appeals to a larger audience is just a sign that you’re not original enough in your approach. Design trends are like cheat sheets for possible ‘inspiration’.
A better approach to knowing what’s cool or working is to pick up or get inspired by Design Style guides. Good design style guides are up to date and are both good looking and functional. I’ve actually written a article with 4.5K claps on design style guides to follow in 2018 —
Again, design trends come from trying and experimenting. You become a more confident designer as soon as you start taking bigger and better quality risks. I was once called out for, and I quote — “Bad Designs” for taking risks with the layout and not listening to the client. I used bold fonts and used almost translucent gradients for a login page, which are now appreciated, but 2 years ago, was considered elementary. So, there is no excuse for trying, experimenting and taking bigger and better risks.