In Daniel Pink’s book A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, he recommends schooling yourself in design to be able to recognize good design from its poorer counterparts, and to “understand in a deeper way how design decisions shape our everyday lives”.Quote
A simple exercise is to take one object which you use every day and ask yourself what you like about it. Then list the things you don’t like about it. Look for a similar product that exists which addresses the downsides. If you can, test it. Buy it. See if it makes a difference to your daily life. I’m guessing it will – even if the difference is as simple as increased anticipation of use.
Currently for me, I am on the search for a travel mug that can brew tea. Sounds simple? Not quite that simple. If you have a suggestion, do let me know. But on my search for this elusive travel mug of great design, it occurred to me that questions around design thinking also apply to how we communicate.
Does it fulfill its purpose?
You would assume that products created for a purpose would fulfill that purpose. Unfortunately, most are mediocre at best. A great design fulfills its purpose to the full. A thermos that keeps coffee hot for long periods of time. A mop that cleans the floor and leaves it dry. Hangers that make clothes stay in shape. A great design delivers its purpose, and provides additional benefits – like not being ugly, or being sustainable. It is the same with communication. Has what you delivered fulfilled its purpose?
Is it intuitive to use?
If it takes too long to understand, it could be designed better. The joy of great design is the feeling of awe that brilliant simplicity delivers. A great product requires little explanation. You know how to use the product even if you can’t explain how it works. In one of Joe Rogan‘s stand up routines he talks about how we think we are smart because we use smart inventions. Most of us don’t know exactly how these inventions work (i.e. smartphones), but we feel sophisticated in our intelligence as a result of using it. Our intuitive ability to use products of great design makes us feel great. This is applicable across the board; from the design of apps and websites, to how you deliver concepts and speak to people. It’s a hard one to master.
Will you use it?
Google’s toothbrush test is not exclusive to assessing acquisitions. You can invest in great design that you don’t use, which renders the product redundant. Design should be used, not just seen. (I am waiting to come across a vacuum cleaner that makes me feel that way, though I have yet to experienced a Dyson.) One should ask the same question with the information we provide. Will people use it? Have we delivered it in a way that people will share it? Is the duration of its lifespan more than one day? Is it ready to travel to more than one platform?