Posted by Ray Cheung

You have one shot to make a first impression and design plays a vital role in making the first impression a great one. Great design requires a lot of work, but where do you start? Here are a few tips to help.

Five Steps to Great Design

1. End user mindset — Regardless of the format, a good designer should place themselves in the mindset of end users. It’s very important that the appropriate research and exercises are conducted to form insights on the end user. It’s fun to experiment, and users are open to new designs and experiences. Sometimes however, it’s best to use tried and tested designs and methodology.

2. First impressions — Every user will form an opinion almost instantly, something along the lines of, “this website is slick” or “this looks fun”. A successful design builds on this initial perception, tweaking aspects such as animations, to form a complete experience. Page fading in as you scroll would add to a first impression that communicates control and delicacy. Think about what first impression you want to make.

3. Build a ‘puzzle web’ — This is ultimately a design-focused mindmap. We use this (and other methods) to evolve creative thinking, approaches and ideas. This helps us maintain a consistent design theme. Having a focus point influences design and ensures that all the design aspects fit together, just like a puzzle.

4. Simple semiotics — Many iconic brands, such as Amazon and PayPal, are prime examples of simple design full of thoughtful meaning. As an example, many people associate Amazon with the iconic yellow arrow pointing from A to Z. This communicates the idea of swift delivery through the usage of a dynamic arrow. The curves of the arrow also double up as a smile, which symbolises the friendly aspect of Amazon as a whole. Whilst these might not always be apparent immediately, adding semiotic elements can be very powerful.

5. Solution orientated thinking — Design exists to solve problems. If you keep the problem and solution front-of-mind throughout a project, you will find it easier to make the right design, and non-design, decisions.

Final thoughts:

There are many factors designers take into consideration when executing great design, and this list is the just tip of the creative iceberg. A good process will feature many methods and practices that lead to a design that acts as a strong canvas for users to discover, explore, uncover and interact. Crafting such an experience can make a brand, or concept, unforgettable.

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