Design best practice isn’t what you think…

Tanya Basson 11 July 2022

“Good design, when it’s done well, becomes invisible. It’s only when it’s done poorly that we notice it.”

– Jared Spool

Jared Spool’s above quote applies to most fields and aspects of design, and should be considered when discussing design best practice. In this instance, he went on to apply the principle to air conditioners. When they are working perfectly, the user doesn’t have much to say, but when they are not working optimally… their gripes become audible.

This is especially true when it comes to the visual interface on smart devices, which users interact with all day, every day. Users don’t seem to notice the design when it is clean, smart and intuitive, but a lot of thought and time has gone into creating that seamlessly ‘invisible’ design. 

Design is so much more than pushing pixels around a screen. If users have a frustrating website/interface experience, they will avoid it all together. Slow site loading speed can be due to many things, but more often than not it comes down to poor design – like the use of oversized images or websites not being optimised with responsive design.

Realm Digital

FACT: 53% of mobile users will ‘bounce’ from a site that takes more than 3 seconds to load.

Positive user experience: the unsung design best practice hero

On the other hand, a positive user experience (UX) goes unseen – the intuitive and ‘simple’ interface is lost on the smartphone, tablet or desktop user – and that’s a good thing. 

“Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer – that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” – Steve Jobs

Realm Digital focuses on design that is responsive, intuitive, seamless and, ultimately, user-friendly. The resulting (seemingly unsung) positive user experience is not a coincidence. It is the result of an involved creative process that is not about vanity metrics, but about having the masses take your desired action.

The purpose of design is to wrap technology up in convenient and easy-to-understand packages. These days, the look of a website is less important than the way we use, interact with, and feel about the interface…

The thought process behind design best practice

Visual showing the thought process behind design best practice
(Damien Newman’s Design Squiggle)

Design best practice in the digital realm

As the world and our daily environment becomes more digitised, the answer to what makes for good design becomes more complex. The more digital devices on the market, the more functions need to be combined to make a website/interface work well on all of them.People often expect good design to be a work of art, but delivering a solid user experience is the aspect of design that delivers best results.

For example, your smartphone connects to your smartwatch and both of these devices do the work of a watch, alarm clock, computer, calculator, heart rate monitor, and more. These do not need complex designed features aesthetically, but when it comes to functionality and ease of use, the design is vital.

Realm Digital’s aim is to provide clients with products that are modern, functional, responsive and create positive experiences for their end-users. We do this through the principles of simplicity, consistency, clean, smart and intuitive design. We have an organic approach to design that focuses on the end-user –  striking the perfect balance between functionality and aesthetics.

Material design: don’t reinvent the wheel

Realm Digital’s design style is based on Material Design, made by Google. This is a trusted and adaptable system of guidelines, components, and tools that support the best practices of user interface design. As is known in the design industry, you do not have to reinvent the wheel every time.

Many years of research and testing have gone into creating and sharing Material Design, and it is ever-evolving. Realm considers this a good starting point for all its design work and with it strives to create thoughtful design that lifts the client’s business to a new level.

To paraphrase Pablo Picasso, ‘Bad designers copy. Good designers steal.’ By ‘stealing’ the Material way of designing, Realm has put itself in the shoes of the creators and experienced why this is a good way of designing for our clients. 

This does not mean we do not do innovative design when the occasion calls for it, we simply try to create the most up-to-date, responsive and user-friendly design with our industry-aligned standards and pricing by using the best tools at our disposal.

Bottom line: good design sells

Investing in good design pays off. Businesses that invest in (good) design thrive in their markets. Design brings value to end-users, and the companies that have recognised this stand out above their competitors. Sales, growth, profits and turnover improve directly, and significantly, through good design. Bigger companies often value design more as a success factor and will reinvest in it, because they have been exposed to its benefits.

A report done in the UK,The Value of Design Fact Finder, shows how design boosts growth in businesses. Below are some of their results:

Increased turnover: For every £1 invested in design, businesses can expect over £20 in increased revenues.

Linked to profit: For every £1 invested in design, businesses can expect over £4 increase in net operating profit.

Boosts exports: For every £1 invested in design, businesses can expect a return of over £5 in increased exports.

Good design is not always invisible, but rather just as visible or invisible as it needs to be to meet the end-users needs. When thinking of spending money on ‘good design’ for your company, just remember that both talent and experience matter…

Realm Digital delivers exactly that with over 20 years of experience in the industry – giving clients’ users an experience that remains relevant for years to come. Realm’s approach to design best-practice will boost your business and give you the competitive edge you have been looking for.

If using Realm’s invisible design methods to boost your business is a conversation you would like to have… LET’S TALK

About the author:
Tanya Basson is the Head of Brand and a Senior Designer at Realm Digital with over 10 years of industry experience. She is passionate about UX and UI design, industry trends, digital marketing and illustration.

Realm Digital has been recognised by DesignRush as one of the Top 20 UI/UX Design Agencies in the United Kingdom.