This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

December 6, 2010

How to do frustration-free design

If you are a poor designer, you have probably watched people struggle to try to figure your design out, and possibly considered them stupid, or lazy. If you have ever said, "you just need to take a few seconds to figure it out...", about one of your designs, you are a poor designer.

Frustration is measured in seconds. Consider these frustrating tasks

• Opening an item in a shrink-wrap hard plastic package. By the time you have tried to find the edge, and went and got the scissors and cut all around it, you really have only spend a minute, possibly less. But in terms of frustration, it seems like forever.

• Waiting for the car in front of you to move after the light turns green. 2-3 seconds?

• Skipping over the previews on a DVD.

• Waiting for a web page to load. After 8-10 seconds, most people click away.

• Finding the bathrooms in a restaurant.

• Searching for what you are looking for on a web page.

If you agree that frustration can occur in seconds, you can see that creating a frustrating design, for example a web site, can discourage people from using it. If you are asking people to "take a few seconds to figure it out", you have created a frustrating design. You are a lousy designer. Sorry, but the more you complain about "how stupid people are", the more I learn about what a poor designer you are.

You can, of course, just say, "well it's fine for me, I like it, and that's the way it's going to be." Or you can put up signs like "To the bathrooms - turn left, turn right, turn left, turn right, up stairs, around corner, turn right, turn left". Or you can include an instruction manual with your designs. But none of this will work. People will just avoid your bad design.

You have two choices - the easiest way is to hire a designer. They went to school and had to listen to teachers like me rant about this stuff. They know what to do. Or you can learn it yourself. I look back on my Graphic Designers teachers fondly, but I wasn't too fond of them when they told me to redesign something! Great design is a pleasure to use. In fact, the very best design just kind of "disappears" and you are just listening to music on your iPod.

If you would like to get personal on-site software training in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator or Dreamweaver in the greater Phoenix, Arizona area, please contact me.  Yes, I will also do a training session on setting up your blog on Google Blogger! Paypal accepted, morning appointments only.

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