Good Design = Reconciling Opposing Forces


Even after 17 years in web design, I still get all charged up when over a design assignment where I am faced with diametrically opposed forces (also known as design requirements). The truth is, this describes nearly every design assignment I’ve ever had.

PRETEND LITTLE CONVERSATION IN MY HEAD (based on real life events):


ME: What’s more important… An uncluttered design that breathes, or getting all 500 billion of these elements to fit on the screen?


ME: What’s more important… Maintaining brand consistency with current marketing materials, or feeling fresh, new, and doing a major brand revamp?


ME: What’s more important… Having a design that really makes the viewer sit up and go wow! … or sticking to a ridiculously lean time constraint and budget?


ME: Could ya please stop sayin’ both to everything?

CLIENT: Sure… We want all of the above!


The truth is, answering both to the questions above is just part of reality. And they are solvable. Sometimes, it means teasing out the right new questions. Sometimes it means pushing back. Always it means taking things past where they need to be, and then bringing them “back” in smart ways.

It means sketching multiple ideas and bouncing them around to see what sticks. In fact, part of my process is to do little sprints… Spend 10-15 minutes busting out a concept. Then switch! Start something new. Switch! Doing this exercise a few times is a great way to get ideas flowing. It’s just one of many tools in my toolkit.

What makes me reflect on all of this right now?

I’m in Boston on a 3-day design & usability blitz. Once again, team Gravity Switch is faced with some hefty design challenges.

Call me a glutton for punishment. Call me a fool. But I am ENERGIZED by this!


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