Why you should design for the user

Designers are not artists. We are not paid to produce art — we’re compensated to meet a need for a business. We are hired to make sure that our clients make a return on their investment. When it comes down to it—we’re just service providers. Design isn’t a way to “show off” the latest technology or the latest techniques…it’s how we communicate.

The purpose of how we design needs to have a business objective. If our designs don’t, then we are designing solely for ourselves. We need to design for the client and the user.

Year after year, designers have had to go through various trials that involved separating the need of design from design want. Ten years ago, Flash was a big deal. With animation, everything moved, everything was impressive. We added background music and sound effects to create engaging experiences for our users.
Today, we still do the same thing—but instead of Flash, we use HTML5 and CSS3. Sometimes “flashy” isn’t always good. If you design for the user and fulfill specific objectives, you’ll have a better result.

Designers need to steer clear of being superficial. Galleries like Awwwards and Dribbble have amazing resources that serve a great purpose. However, these galleries don’t help us ask “why?” Why is a design choice made? Why is this the best way to do something? It’s natural to want to follow the newest and latest trends in the industry, but unless your “why” question can be answered by “it’s the best decision for the user,” you don’t necessarily need to.

The fundamentals of web design came from the same structure of a newspaper: A logo at the top, a headline, the text. If you deviate from that structure it can affect how your users digest the content on the page. If the user is confused on how to navigate a site, you can lose them. The format of a newspaper is easy-to-follow and easy-to-understand. It doesn’t require critical thinking. If a design requires the user to work hard, the use will start to analyze and categorize the experience. Analyzing and categorizing is important for learning—but it isn’t good for business. Websites have a uniform structure because easy-to-follow and easy-to-understand equals longer exposure, lower hesitation, and better satisfaction. A happy user buys things.

Although it may be against your inner artist, you need to design for the user—not yourself. When you design, try to use the objectives of a particular project as the blueprint. Easy is a good thing—create a design to meet those objectives in the simplest way possible for users.

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