When we look at the basic nature of web design and the creation of a consistent, usable, organized site, often times our assignment can be a bit like cramming a lot into one little space. We’re not alone. Every industry is challenged to prioritize and simplify. I started to think of my favorite designers and companies that have done a great job of providing quality experiences to the masses, while also designing things with interesting form and function. While I’m sure this isn’t the most ground breaking of ideas, I think there is some merit as to what we give to a user and providing elegant design functions.
Take a look at the Eames chair, perhaps one of the most iconic pieces of furniture from the past 50 years. The design is perfect in so many ways. From the curved, molded wood seat cradle, to the angulation of how your body and torso fit into the arch of the back. So much care was put into the creation of that piece, and many users will often overlook its beauty and comfort because of the subtlety in its design. The true beauty of this chair is the actual experience that comes from sitting in its leather cushions and putting your feet upon the footstool. The way the material carefully holds your body and provides a perfect balance of push and pull to cradle your torso and lower body. I’m sitting in this chair as I type this post and it’s fantastic!
Now, take a look at the bizzaro doppelgänger of the Eames design at Ikea. What Ikea has done so well is give usable, comfortable, and affordable design to a large audience. They’ve built a collection of furniture and household goods that give even the smallest budget a chance to add a sense of “cool” and “style” into their home, apartment or dorm room.
Through the Ikeames philosophy, a UX can be manufactured. We can have a collection of elements and design components that give both a fantastic level of intuitive ease and are also accessible to the many. We can find a balance between creating timeless, beautiful things and also very usable interfaces.
Some people might bucket this under brand guidelines, or design principles (see gov.uk and their design principles. It’s a fantastic collection of ideas.) Principles are “a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.” They don’t give you a chair to put in a corner, or a bookshelf that can work with any wall color or space. I guess what the Ikeames philosophy relies upon is both a combination of tools and experience. A reasoning for the design, an experience that feels right for the job, and a way to help solve the problem or provide insight that can give you a thoughtful insight.
As UX designers, we all have tools and ideals that we use to stay true. In my everyday UX design work, I’m trying to remind myself to find the best way to balance the beauty and cost of an Eames with the usefulness and function of a $99 Ikea Poang.