The following is written by student Melanie Tran. Melanie recently won the 2018 Laureate Here for Good Award. She is a disruptor, innovator, activist, and entrepreneur.
The term design is short and simple, but never underestimate the complexity this one word can bring. It has the power to change the way we behave. Ultimately, it has the ability to change our lives and shape the future.
Today we acknowledge World Usability Day. It’s a day where we celebrate good designs and learn from the bad ones. Looking at this year’s theme Good Vs Evil Design, the one thing I see that stands between good and evil is human-centred design and going beyond the creative lens.
Perhaps one of the key factors that can differentiate good and evil design is usability.
Imagine if every solution is driven by the needs of end users. Every solution values co-creation. Every solution stands for inclusion, where no one is left behind.
Many may see design as a technique to make products look aesthetically pleasing. To me, aesthetics in design only reaches the tip of the iceberg. If you asked me to define design when I was first introduced to the creative industry, I’d say it’s about aesthetics. If it looks good and is desirable, then the design has served its purpose. I’ve spent the past seven years navigating my way through the world of design and I went through a pivotal moment when I realized that aesthetics only serves as the bricks and water of a design. What serves as a good design goes far beyond that.
You may think that design is about creating solutions that fit within the social norms. But I challenge you to define social norms in the context of design – is it about creating solutions that are aesthetically pleasing? Or is it about creating solutions that are driven by the needs of users?
Aesthetics are no longer enough in design. In fact, it never has been. It’s about using the human-centred approach and allowing empathy to take place. It’s about seeing the world through the eyes of end users and understanding what matters to them. But most importantly, it’s about knowing how to find that balance between the fine line of aesthetics and functionality.
We live in a society that is constantly evolving, and it’s within our nature to grow and adapt to this change. What we need to understand is that design can influence the direction of where our society is heading. You may wonder how design can possibly have that power over us. The answer is simple – it is because it has the ability to put humans at the centre of design. And when humans are put in the centre of design, attitude changes. And when attitude changes, a new perception is formed.
If every designer can adopt these principles, then maybe…just maybe…we will be able to move forward together and no one will get left behind.