Similarities

We often think of newness as something that is created from nowhere–ex nihilo. When we hear about what’s the next biggest trend or product or service, we are led to believe it has to be something never thought up before and we are sadly disappointed that the newness of things is not that big of a deal. We have to understand that when thinking of new ideas, products, or services, instead of looking for differences, try looking at similarities.

Its the similarities that create the relationship that works for us as humans and consumers of new products or services. Designers use the term design semantics. An object has to say something about itself; say something about its larger context; and about the user who interacts with it.

Design semantics is communication through displays of information; graphic elements; shape and texture; and indications of internal state (e.g. battery life left, etc…). In short, a design has to convey what it does. For example, a car has to look like it functions as a car. With typography, the letters have to be readable as letters.

As designers, we have to operate under the premise that people are stupid and consider that when designing each aspect of your work. Don’t make people think too hard. If it takes more energy to interpret your design, then your user will go elsewhere.

Similarities lead to better design semantics and a better experience.

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You Get What You Always Got

 

When having to deal with corporate branding, I’m constantly frustrated by the incredible amount of money spent on graphic identity that seems to plagiarise, er… borrow, from other organizations’ details. So-called big agencies tout their incredible attention to the so-called buzzwords of the day, surveys, trends, etc… blah, blah, blah. You can tout all that stuff, but, ultimately, the end product has to blow us away. Unfortunately, the majority of what I see these days is the same old thing. I can’t sigh too many times.

We are in the days of Brutalism in graphic design. Brutalist architecture is a style of architecture which flourished from the 1950s to the mid 1970s, spawned from the modernist architectural movement. Brutalist buildings usually are formed with striking repetitive angular geometries. A building may achieve its Brutalist quality through a rough, blocky appearance, and the expression of its structural materials, forms, and (in some cases) services on its exterior. Graphic design is still going through its Brutalism phase and I’m, frankly, very tired of it. This whole concept of brutal simplicity has gone on way too long. And, corporate entities are, unfortunately, all looking the same.

My last post was about Discovery and the journey we must take to change design. These days of design are begging us to push out of this brutalist movement. Let’s push the boundaries like David Carson did in the ’90s.

Designers… Please remember, “If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got.” Cue the sad trombone sound.

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