Bonus: Good Design According to You

October 30, 2018
A short but special bonus episode of Wireframe, recorded at Adobe MAX in Los Angeles, a.k.a. the world’s largest creativity conference, which this year brought together more than 14,000 creative pros—designers, photographers, videographers, illustrators, artists, and more—all in one place. So it was an ideal opportunity to ask them: What does good design mean to you?



Hey there – I’m Khoi Vinh.

And this week, while we’re working on our next episode – we’re bringing you a short, but special, bonus episode of Wireframe.

We just got back from Adobe MAX in Los Angeles. Its also known as the world’s largest “Creativity Conference.” This year we brought together 14 thousand people from around the world for one week… to talk about the state and future of creativity.

The conference is filled with a wide range of creative pros: designers, photographers, videographers, illustrators, artists, and now – people working in immersive media like augmented reality.

And what’s really great is all these different disciplines are sharing ideas with one another.

What I love about Adobe MAX is that my job is to actually make tools for people like this – and then – I get to meet so many of them – all in one place.

So we figured it would be the ideal opportunity to find out how a ton of creative pros define good design.

We set up a recording studio inside a shiny Airstream trailer … and we parked it right in the middle of the conference.

Let’s head inside… and hear what people at MAX had to say:

FREDDIE: Good design is elegance, good design is efficiency.

MALE VOICE: Good design makes my life easier.

LAUREN: It just feels like they know what you’re thinking before you even know it.

FREDDIE: Good design is anything that doesn’t piss people off.

We got a lot of different perspectives on what makes for good design.

Like Lauren Thomas — from User Testing. She said that: from the beginning, you have to know who you’re designing for.

LAUREN: I think really what it boils down to is understanding like the journey that they want to take – and what that looks like. So, you want to purchase something and like I do not want to walk five feet to go get my wallet. Like, no. Having the option to pay, like do Apple Pay, or like just have my information maybe already there just like those kinds of like small things that really make a difference in me wanting to complete a transaction as opposed to just dropping it and be like oh I’ll get to it later.

Moses Moreno – a brand strategist at a public library in San Jose – talked about the importance of diversity and inclusion:

MOSES: In San Jose, we have a very diverse group, um, Hispanic groups, we have a large of Vietnamese and Chinese, a growing Hindi population. Bringing that into my design work is definitely a challenge because it is so diverse. I don’t just deal with English speaking people, I deal with people of different cultures and different languages. We do translate a lot of our graphic works and I’ve come to learn how much space different languages require. So a bad design to me is something that doesn’t reach out to everybody we’re trying to reach.

And filmmaker Freddie Wong told us all about the brilliant design lessons you can find in fast food.

FREDDIE: The ketchup packet thing that Heinz did, the new ones, the plastic ones – that to me is I think maybe the best example of modern design. It’s a ketchup packet. It looks like a small ketchup bottle. You can peel it back so that you can squeeze it. You can pull it back and dip. And it has more ketchup innit – its just – its clever. The more problems you can solve with a single sort of move, a single design move, the better it is.

That’s a good rule for ketchup… and for software. But Aaron Nase – who runs the educational website Phlearn – said hardware can be the secret to great software design.

AARON: I mean, I gotta say the iphone is good design. I watched a talk recently by Steve Jobs and he said that anyone who is passionate about software should build their own hardware. Before then it was you know complicated keyboards on the phone and buttons that were stuck in place whether you needed them or not. And removal of all those objects and using the user interface of the device itself helped basically make the buttons there visible when you needed them and not visible when you didn’t need them. And to me that was a huge breakthrough and obviously something that millions of people around the world use on a day to day basis.

Oh, and there’s one last piece of advice I have to share –

DAVID: Don’t dress boring – don’t look at me boring. Don’t create something that’s boring in design – I mean y’know whatever we can do we try to spice it up.

These conversations reminded me of another rule of good design… it doesn’t end. Especially today, good design means constant evolution. And when you have constant change, that means the definition of good design is changing too. We’d all do well to keep asking ourselves the question… what is good design?

And with that… see you next week for a regular episode! We’re gonna be asking: what does good design look like in a world of augmented reality?  

Thanks for listening. I’m Khoi Vinh.