I design software interface and a large part of my work is to create the ‘look and feel’ for the software. As far as I understand, how the software ‘looks’ and how it ‘feels’ are intertwined because how it looks is based on how it’s supposed to make the user feel. All-in-all, we’re talking about the experience of the user at the sensory as well as visceral levels. This, I consider an integral, if not equal, part of my effort as a designer. This post contains my musings on visual design — on what I think visual design is, what it does for the products and artefacts I design and, to me.
So, what does visual design mean to me?
- A respite from the physical world
The physical world is nice, of course, but it’s entropic. I organise stuff on my table, and soon enough, I see objects that are either mis-aligned or improperly placed across the room. Now I must organise this clutter or it’ll keep growing and bleed into my mind. And before I know it, I will be working on a messy table, sleeping on a messy bed and so on.
A space inside the screen is different in this regard. The software that I love gives me a sense of comfort, almost always. Stuff is neatly aligned, well-coloured. I don’t really have to remember where I kept something because I can just search for some related keywords and I shall be presented with options.
Not only respite from the point-of-view of organisation, but visual design achieves respite through painting a world, or an image of the world, that the mind of the user isn’t be able to otherwise create since the everyday physical world takes a hell of a time to ‘update’ itself as per one’s fantasy. An example of this I find in the Uber app, which paints a vision of a future right inside its interface. Cars look like they’re from the future, finding a cab by ‘beaming’ a call to nearby cab ‘stations’ and a direct link (owing to the unpredictable route) of a pool ride are beautiful representations that seem simple but are results of careful thought.