Create the change you want to see
Over the course of my ten+ year career as a graphic designer, web designer and front-end designer, I’ve come to realize that the projects change, but the needs remain the same. This particularly applies to front-end design.
Needs vs. Wants
When working in the world of the web, there is a constant flow of new projects, project managers and ideas that need to be fleshed out and given a space on the the internet. Front-end Design is booming, and it’s what puts the food on the table, so this influx is expected and appreciated. With each project, though, there’s a set of needs and wants attached to it. It’s important that we remember to distinguish a need from a want.
A need in the web-world can be seen as something that provides usefulness to people using the site or app. It can also be something that effectively communicates important or helpful information. For instance, the majority of apps and sites utilize some form of primary navigation to help orient users. If this navigation were removed, in most cases, people would not know how to steer from one page to another. Another good example of a need is product information. If you’re working on an ecommerce website, your product and marketing pages need to have relevant product information. Shoppers will not buy your product if they do not understand it, or if they do not relate to it. Effective communication helps to bridge the gap between the experience and the user.
On the flip-side, it is possible to over-communicate. I would classify over-communication as a want. Sometimes, project owners will get carried away and try to shove everything under the sun into a page that could perform much better if simple and direct. Generally speaking, wants are additions that meet businesss requirements, but in reality add nothing of consequence for the user’s interaction. User’s need simplicity, and when simplicity is done well it provides engagement on a level that complicated can only dream of.
Some Needs Remain Constant
When pondering simplicity, I tend to think we all need it and probably crave it to some extent. As such, I’d say that simplicity is a need that remains constant from project to project, and extends beyond being a need for users. As designers, developers, and creators, we have needs that stick with us. Simplicity is one of those needs, but it’s not alone. There’s also:
- Reactive Timelines - Timelines that adjust according to changes, deficiencies and maybe efficiencies.
- Effective Communication - Project owners, designers, developers and others involved need to have open and honest communication.
- Realistic Timelines - Piggybacking off of Reactive Timelines, if a project isn’t appropriately scoped, then it will fall short of expectations.
While these aren’t all the needs that remain constant, these are some that I would consider ideal needs. They’re needs that when fulfilled help satisfy both users and creators alike.
Going forward, I hope that when we work on projects that we’re able to continue to change with them. To continue to become better designers and stewards for better user interaction. Too often, it’s easy to get into a routine and do things the way we’ve done them because those things have always been “needs”. However, when we get to the point that we realize that nothing is going to change unless we take action, then that’s a good indicator that it’s time to create the change that we want to see.