An infographic on technology, business, and design and how they overlap to form UX or user experience

Teacher Response to Homework #4: Level Up (On the Layers of Design)

Business Keeping

Grades on Canvas.

Design is more than just the visual

It is important to understand levels of a system you’re working in because everything connects to a larger whole. You need to consider your object, interface, location, structure, system, and ecosystem. When you know what level you are working with you can zoom in to the appropriate level of detail. This affects the entire system as one tiny decision leads to another and another and so on. A controlled vocabulary is an organized list of terms, phrases, and concepts intended to help someone navigate a specific context. This allows you to define terms and concepts that align and misalign with you intent. – Katherine

If you’ve gotten nothing else from this class, I hope you’ve learned that there are lots of different elements of design. Design is not just the graphics in an information product. It’s the look and feel. It’s how the product functions. It’s a part of everything.

When Abby Covert talks about the “levels” of a system, she’s really talking about how all the different parts move together. Designers have a hand in many aspects of those, including:

  • Design of objects users interact with such as buttons and icons
  • Design of branding elements such as color schemes, logos, and typography
  • Design of information such as user guidelines, content, and callout features
  • Design of documentation such as reports, style guides, newsletters
  • Design of marketing materials such as blogs, social media posts, and infographics

There are so many types of designers nowadays that designers are specializing, which is great. It shows how mature design is becoming. I’m sure many of you could pick one or more of the above types of design to become proficient in.

Best practices + user needs = good design

This is essential to an organization because it is what keeps customers coming back. A branding strategy provides the customers with a purpose for the product, which can help with advertisement, consistency which makes your customer comfortable with know the product the love will not be altered and will remain at the same standard of high quality they hold it at. Flexibility is something that brand strategy provides. If a company is not able to make their product change with the times, but not loose it’s consistency that will keep you customers coming back. All of these branding strategies enable a company to keep customers happy, coming back, and enable their products to stand the test of time. They get better with time and adapt to keep the customers happy. – Vholanda

At the end of the day, all the best practices in the world can’t compare to usability or how easy it is for someone to actually use the product you’re designing. Design must always cater to users, then. And the field that deals with that is UX.

I usually teach my UX course every couple years. If it doesn’t line up with your schedule and you’re curious about that side of things, feel free to check out what I’ve done in the past:

The other side of this equation, however, is that you don’t want to deliver a crappy design just because that’s what users ask for. Users are often terrible at articulating what a design should do. Don’t ask them about that. Or if you do, know that you’re learning more about them then you are about good design. Ask users for what they need. That’s what you really need to know from them: what are they trying to accomplish? Then design the product that meets that need.

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