What is (good) design?

Blog / 23 Apr 2019

Tags: Experience Design / Whitepaper

Without getting too philosophical, let's clarify what is broadly meant by 'design'. Even in our industry it's a word frequently misunderstood or, at least, only partially understood.

Design is an incredibly broad subject, touching every aspect of our lives, from architecture to advertising; from landscape gardening to lighting; from fashion to factories. But however different the sectors in which design is applied, it displays consistent principles and philosophies. They're simply applied in different mediums.


Design is the creation of a plan for the construction of an object, a system or a measurable human interaction


RedEye Optimisation (REO) is focused on experience design grounded in evidence gathered by examining problems and researching user issues. In prioritising problems and issues, REO designs future concepts bringing everyone together behind a vision for change. The implementation of the design (redesign) project then begins.

To most people design can often be seen as something purely subjective ("do I like it?") which tends to overstate the importance of aesthetics. In the design of online experiences, therefore, this commonly results in people becoming obsessed with images, colours and graphics which actually come relatively late in the experience design methodology. However, design, in any application, can and should always be objectively assessed.


Does it demonstrably and measurably perform the function for which it has been designed?


A path in a park is a (sort of!) great example. Below you can see an aesthetically-pleasing path adorned with beautifully cut grass and block paving, the path winds round the corner and is always kept pristine by the park keeper. But users of the park, simply cut straight across the park lawns avoiding the path. Why? Because the path does not meet their primary need, which is to get to their destination swiftly.


Designing without research Designing without research


The consequences of designing without research The consequences of designing without research


Our latest whitepaper The Marriage of the Rational and Emotional. A Methodology for Experience Design separately defines the functional requirements of the customer experience, the visual elements demanded by the brand and customer expectations, and the organisation's commercial objectives, ultimately bringing these together in the most effective combination.

Critically, the methodology also demands that this work is done within the operational constraints of the organisation. After all, the 'perfect' path design fails if it needs to be carved by hand from a single piece of Italian marble...

The paper is available to download for free here