One of the many concerns for Industrial Designers is how the end-user interacts with the product. This frame of thought comes to the forefront when we are designing how end-users visually react and interact with a graphical user interface (GUI). GUI Design and Industrial Design are quite different as a profession at the macro level, but there certainly are similarities to both fields in terms of design philosophy.
One important similarity is the mindset of the designer, especially at the onset of each project. The designer needs to able to intuitively understand the fundamental need(s) of each project in order to set the proper hierarchy for the numerous design challenges. For instance, it may make more sense for one GUI to focus on captivating storytelling. This could mean an app GUI that requires development of stunning graphics/imagery with the intent to draw in the end-user while intentionally not overwhelming the user with information/data, but gradually adding depth and detail further along on the path. Like a choose-your-own-adventure book, the GUI is designed to adapt to different levels of engagement from the end-user. We would design a completely different GUI for smart medical device app. It would be more effective to be deliberately as linear as possible, designing the graphical elements and feedback responses within the GUI to be clean, easy to read, and straightforward.
Interestingly, not all projects start off from a blank slate. Often times we are tasked with designing the next generation GUI design for the client. At this point our task isn’t so much about developing a new framework for the GUI to exist. We may add some new functionality, but most of the focus is on determining what will give the GUI a fresh perspective without straying too far from the original. GUI design, whether it is designed from the ground up or as a simple update, is a process of constant iteration and evaluation. We value the process of developing numerous design possibilities because we know that the details matter for the end user.
by Dean Van, Industrial Designer
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