Creating invisible experiences

As Jared Spool has quoted, “Good design, when it’s done well, becomes invisible. It’s only when it’s done poorly that we notice it.”


Vasudha Mamtani

3 years ago | 3 min read

As a young designer, I would always be extremely stoked to see my designs in action. I’d put in hours and hours into creating pixel-perfect prototypes filled with wonderful micro-interactions. I’d make sure every icon was animated to perfection and the timing was not off by even a millisecond. I took a lot of pride in the final product.

But once the designs went into production, or were tested with users, I’d realize that the little things I’d put hours of effort into often went unnoticed.
When users were given a task to go through, they’d focus on locating the information and completing the user journey.

They didn’t care too much about what colour a certain button was, where the text was in sentence case or title case, or what an empty state looked like.

During one such testing experience, I was slightly disappointed to not receive extensive feedback about the experience. My mentor at the time pulled me aside to explain that not receiving feedback about design is feedback in itself.


More often than not, whenever users have feedback about design, it is usually when they find something visibly off. It could be a red button that startles them and draws unnecessary attention, or It could be unstructured content causing legibility issues. If your users aren’t pointedly providing negative feedback about your designs, you should consider it as a win.

As Jared Spool has quoted, “Good design, when it’s done well, becomes invisible. It’s only when it’s done poorly that we notice it.”

Since then, I have come to understand that the experiences we create need to be invisible. Our designs should smoothen out all kinks in the user journey while providing for a smooth experience.

This wonderful read about invisible designs explains how creating great experiences are easy to understand, but difficult to come up with.

So, how to make experiences invisible?

Imagine going into an office (pre-pandemic :P) where every door opens differently. Some push to open, some pull, some slide and some simply stay shut. Just imagine how frustrating that would be.

When the goal is to make the experience thoughtless, the path to it lies in consistency.

To make your users’ experience seamless, make your designs consistent. Allow the users to expect action buttons to be at a certain area on the page so that they can mindlessly click without needing to hunt for them.

Allow them to create habits while using your application, so that if they need to go back, they know that they can swipe right at any page, and that interaction will ALWAYS take them back.

Social media cracked the code at making interactions mindless. At any point in the day, you will find yourself scrolling through a massive amount of content, while barely interacting with it. It is simply swiping (and sometimes double-tapping)!

A quote I read that I believe is explains the concept of invisible design from the end user’s point of view is — “Don’t make me notice what I’m doing. Just make it simple.”

Should my design ALWAYS be invisible?

What a sad world would it be for designers if all everyone had to do was blend in, right?

To answer this question, designers need to decide whether their website/application is functional or exploratory. There is a lot of scope to experiment with design when the purpose of the user is to come and explore; because in such a situation, the users don’t really have a task at hand that they’re looking to complete. Their time is for leisure.

Take this website for instance. Almost every interaction on the website blows my mind every single time I watch it. The reason it works so well here is that this site is meant for the users to come and browse

But when the purpose is functional, the focus needs to be a glitch-free experience. Users are not likely to want to look at fancy animation patterns or well-crafted illustrations when their intent is to complete a task.

Understand better how creating more visible designs impact experience here.

So as designers, we need to continue thinking out of the box to create experiences that blow the audience away; but we always need to keep the user goal in mind. Putting the users first will always work in our favour and help us create better experiences time and time again.


Created by

Vasudha Mamtani







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