Design Use vs. Function…Ramble


This week’s Digital DUMBO: London edition meet-up brought up the crossover of approach by User Interface designers and architecture.

What should we focus on when drafting floor plans/building a wireframe: flow or function? They are two different mind sets. Examples were given of buildings that were made to foster neighbors to interact, Seattle’s flagship library to be an experience of the city, as well as one of learning.

images-1For me, choosing to reconognize how a space/screen/product is going to be used in tandem with creating an aesthetically pleasing environment is the magic recipe. Compelling content in a simple design is enormously appealing.

An agency I worked at in New York cared more about the appearance of cool, then productivity. There were three offices with glass walls, expensive artwork and the rest of the office was an open floor plan with music blaring over the heads of the staff. Most people wore headphones.

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If you are wearing headphones you can’t hear the phone ring. It’s important to pick up client’s calls. It’s important not to place speakers above desks of the staff. The building was so “cool,” the elevator was almost permanently out-of-order, and the stairs were old, missing railings, and quite steep.

This is where taking function comes into account with aesthetics. Remember when your computer would crash because websites were overloaded with flash? Your website traffic will decrease if it is inaccessible. Missing a plug-in on a highly designed website is the same as that missing chunk of handrail- a missed click could send a user’s experience spiriling downward and could cost you their interest.

Think big picture and about different points of views. Consider the user’s needs and make a solid, well-functioning site. You may not have Frank Gehry helping you, but you can certainly make sure the holes in your design won’t leave you with six months in a leaky, non-functioning website.

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