December 14 2015

There’s a free template for that- The functional layer of a designer.

How can something as subjective as design be measured? Is it possible that “good design” can actually be traced to something we all recognize on a visceral level? Why do certain forms appeal to us over others?


Can we look to Tolle’s explanation of a flower as the catalyst for our shift in human consciousness? He claims, “… flowers were most likely the first thing (we) came to value which had no utilitarian purpose… they provided inspiration…” Or does Milton Glaser’s take on the general impact of art rationalize why beauty matters? He believes, “Beauty is a mechanism that moves us to attentiveness.”


These theories might explain our intuitive appreciation for the presentational layer, but what about the design decisions that go into the functional aspect of the things we interact with everyday? In other words, now that I have your attention… let me show you my worth.


In the last 10+ years of working as a designer, I’ve experienced a rapid evolution of this field’s required “hard” skills. But regardless of the moving target that is our tooling, there continues to be an intrinsic aspect of design that’s kept me grounded in this profession. The practice of intention, consideration and care that go into conceiving any idea is at the heart of our evergreen skillset as designers. It’s not much more than The Golden Rule—the practice of altruism or empathy for others.


The process I typically follow starts with attentively listening to and defining a client’s problem, identifying and researching its target audience, and offering a solution that achieves business objectives while meeting a customer’s needs in an enjoyable, memorable way. It’s a strategy with no one right answer. But its measurability typically comes in the form of brand loyalty over time. It’s a sequence of small, thoughtful decisions that span visual presentation to user experience that eventually culminate in a successful product or service.
In this day of free downloadable templates, open source frameworks, pattern libraries and UI kits, it’s easy for a designer to worry, “What’s my precious deliverable?” As visual assets quickly become a commoditized marketplace, we should, more than ever, proudly convey and nurture the real value we bring to the table. It’s the facilitation and orchestration of this process that define our functional role. And, yes, we should have a seat at the table by now.


This post was written by Laura Patti, Digital Experience Designer, at Bellhops. Thanks Laura!