The design process is in its simplest form, problem solving. However, too often, designers seek to solve these problems within boundaries of web, or application standards, instead of thinking through the basic common factor for all design, both digital and physical: the human being.
The key to great design is not on your screen.
Instead of trying to mold users to fit your solution, work to find a seamless integration of technology into the human behavior and patterns. As an example, web forms are probably the most glaring showcase of this, with horrible forms becoming almost a web standard. What is the actual purpose of entering an email twice, or having multiple security questions and answers?
Beyond visual design itself, there is a glaring need for understanding how humans work psychologically. With this understanding, designers can focus on ways that technology can improve life – instead of clogging our phones, our lives, and our minds with a useless and cumbersome collection of technology.
Tips for Using Human Inspiration to Improve Your Designs
Take a tip from a toddler. We learn by exploration. Flipping a book page, turning over a rock, digging in the beach sand, and tasting a new type of food. Humans learn and absorb information by exploration. The driving force behind exploration is the joy of discovery. Use this to your advantage: instead of laying out everything for the user to sort through, use rollovers, intelligent navigation, and scrolling to gently guide a user through an exploration/discovery process. Use imagination, don’t revert to lazy replicas of real life objects, but think through the natural learning and comprehension process and leverage it with the specific design problem you are tackling.
Tell a Story
From the beginning of time, before there were written languages, storytelling was the tool used to communicate and retain information. This has not disappeared from the human psyche, but the true art of storytelling does seem to be dwindling in quality. If you want your user to remember you, tell a story!
Be Open to Change
Decide whether and app or website is the best choice for your user. Think through it. Sometimes, an app or website is not the best path, and the business owner (and users) will be better served through an intelligent leveraging of social media, or an innovative use of technology.
In the end, be inspired by humans, by your friendships, your interactions, and your conversations with people. Instead of focusing on trends, focus on your users. So get up, log off, talk, interact and become a better designer.