Rodrigo Lizarraga is an art director, graphic designer and creator with an in-depth knowledge of the world of design. While most people believe that different design categories are completely separate, he rejects this idea and says that, in fact, all design fields have certain principles in common.
The Basics Of Design
“Before we look at the common principles for all design fields, it’s important to know what design really means,” Lizarraga says. “The term design is used to describe the planned creation of products, systems or objects. However, it’s more than that. In fact, it’s not just a product – it’s really a process. At its core, design is a way of thinking, and designers are those who hone that way of thinking into their craft.”
Simplicity Alone Isn’t Enough – Complexity Must Lie Within It
“Too many people say that design is all about simplicity,” Lizarraga complains. “However, simplicity is just the tip of an iceberg. Sometimes isn’t well designed only because it is simple. The simplicity must actually hide a wealth of complexity beneath its surface.”
It is this, says Lizarraga, that makes the job of being a designer so difficult. It’s far harder to make something that is complex appear simple than to simply allow it to let its complexity shine forth. Essentially, the design must be the enabler.
“When someone uses a design they need to access something complex and the design facilitates the reaching of the goal,” Lizarraga explains. “This applies to all kinds of design. For example, when designing a product, its interface has to enable the user to achieve what they need to in a convenient and user-friendly way. It needs to take all of the challenging things that the user needs to accomplish and present them in such a way that the user has no difficulty whatsoever in getting them done.”
According to Lizarraga, this applies to everything, from the design of the latest iPhone to the design of a social media ad encouraging viewers to sign up to a newsletter.
Intuitiveness Is Key
Leading on from the above point, Lizarraga points out that intuitiveness is another key principle that runs through all types of design.
“When designs are intuitive, they just feel right.” The designer says. “Intuitiveness isn’t actually universal. What’s intuitive to one person may not be to somebody else. Something that one person can understand easily may be a struggle to get to grips with for another person.” He, therefore, explains that intuitiveness must be a tool that can be used to improve designs.
“Any design’s function must be led by a natural underlying behavior if it’s going to be seen as intuitive.” He says. “Form must follow function. For example, if a designer is creating a fast car they need the design of the call to reflect that speed through its exterior and interior design. That allows the driver to step into the car already conditioned subconsciously for the vehicle to take off at speed.”
This, again, applies to all kinds of design.
“Imagine, for example, that a designer is creating a website for a luxury hotel brand.” He explains. “The whole site needs to exude that luxury. Visitors need to be left with no doubt that when they book a room they’ll be experiencing the ultimate in elegance, sophistication and good taste, and that can be achieved through the look, feel and user experience of the site from the very start.”
Hierarchy Of Information
The “chunking” theory may be most associated with mathematics, however, Lizarraga believes that this principle also applies to all types of design.
“People can digest information more easily and remember it better when it’s ‘chunked’.” He says. “It’s easier to remember numbers in a sequence if they’re broken into separate blocks. This science is applicable to design too. As designers, we can chunk information then order it in such a way to assist users when it comes to accessing the complexities behind the design.”
He points to examples from different types of design – for example in product design, a car’s brake pedal is designed to be larger than its accelerator pedal for safety reasons, and in poster design, a show’s title will almost always be the biggest text so that the prospective audience will know what to expect when they arrive at the theatre.
“Hierarchy of information allows designs to be streamlined.” Lizarraga says, “and this enables users to focus more easily on what they require to achieve success. Designers of all kinds need to sort then prioritize the elements which require user input so that designs can be dummy-proof.”
The Craft Of Design
It’s fair to say that design is certainly a craft. Lizarraga believes designers must adhere to all of the above principles to achieve success, regardless of which area of this craft they specialize in. Those who fail in this will also fail in their designs.