"Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it's really how it works."

Jason Cooke

The above quote by Steve Jobs, for me, is a great introduction for newcomers to the world of design.

Design is a funny word. To be honest I wrestled with it for years when younger. How it’s used and interpreted seems to vary wildly. To design a pattern and to design a complex website, both use the same verb. When I was an inexperienced designer, freshly graduated and looking to be taken seriously I saw two different types of design. This was a big deal.

On top of this the act of designing made you a ‘designer’. One word with multiple, often polar opposite, interpretations. Would you be thought of as a designer that endeavoured to find a solution to a problem that was timeless, or as a designer that worked on delivering an ever changing tide of the new and fashionable?

To ‘design' or to ‘Design’. To be a ‘designer’ or a ‘Designer’. Seems silly now. Design is a funny word.

Before you can engage, before you can start a conversation, you need to catch the eye. 

How a design looks is important. Really important. People make base decisions on it. It’s what turns head, it’s what draws people it. Back in college we used to say ‘seduce to inform’. Before you can engage, before you can start a conversation, you need to catch the eye. 

Making the right first impression is huge, especially for a new customer-facing business. It can be the difference between a customer picking up your product, visiting your website or walking through your door rather than the door a competitor. With a successful first impression you then have an opportunity to meet or exceed expectations. Do that for a new customer and chances are they’ll be back and also recommend you. How something looks and how it compares to what else is on offer could mean all the difference. 

But the looks that get you noticed need to be backed up. If you get attention, what next?

The title quote mentions two aspects to 'design' - how it looks and how it works. Both aspects work in unison. And here’s the twist; how a design works is really how it’s experienced.

People consider a ‘design’ as a means to getting a job done. What will this do for me? Will it make what I have to do easier, more comfortable or even enjoyable? Will it make me look good? What does it associate me with? The functions of design can be plentiful and layered - a design might need to do many things at once. Whether or not a design is a good fit depends on the expectations of the user.

how a design works is really how it’s experienced.

For a logo or a brand identity it’s no different. How a design looks and how a design works are one. Some people make a mark (or take a mark) and call it a logo. In fact this happens all the time. However in order to ‘design’ a logo or a brand identity in earnest you need to understand who and what is represented. You need to know where it is coming from and where it is intent on going.

Design is a funny word; sometimes trivial, sometimes pretty considered.

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