Design is dead, and we killed him.
The Usability Era.
2050. It’s a windy December night. Christmas is around the corner, and I feel cozy with my hot cup of coffee and my favorite Lo-Fi playlist. Everything seems perfect. Everything seems in the right place. Then, a voice. A voice whispers: “You have killed it”.
“What have I killed?” I ask perplexed.
A long silence.
“Design.” responds the voice.
I don’t understand. Design is great nowadays: websites are wonderful, apps even more. Why is this creepy voice telling me that I killed design?
I had to further investigate, so I asked the voice of her reasons.
“Usability” whispers calmly.
Well, that word made me chill. Memories started to flow in my mind while I was paralyzed in front of my computer.
There was a time, many years ago, when designers used to say that term: Usability. It meant a lot in the past, and was a fundamental part of our lives. There were a lot of platforms and websites where you could learn about “usability”, like Medium or W3C.
The Usability Era.
Those times were indeed strange: designers cared about the user experience and designed websites according to it. I can even remember that people were tested on prototypes before developing platforms. Ages of darkness, in which absurd guidelines like accessible fonts, sizes, and contrast were law. Can you even imagine designing a website with all this tomfoolery?
Can you recall websites where scrolling was set on default, and no script interfered with the user? Horror. Horror to my eyes. But thanks to our two omnipotent Lords, Dribbble and Awwwards, everything changed.
The Aesthetic Era
The voice said that I (or we) killed design. Clearly, this is the speech of a heretic. Design got blessed with the Word of our Lords and, finally, peace flooded the world.
Design brought us ten commandments, and I hope you can recite them with me. You can’t? Well, don’t say that where someone can hear you. Now let me recite them backward for you.
10. Always in the name of our Lords, use left-side drawers in app design.
This is important: most people are right-handed, and their thumb can’t reach the left part of the new generation screens. In fact, you don’t want the user to access the app menu, Don’t you?
A left-side drawer.
9. Bring useful navigation on the top Appbar.
The same principle. New phones are big, and placing widgets on top prevents the user to use them. Let him stare at the screen with a painful hand.
Navigation in a top bar.
8. Use unreadable fonts on websites.
Reading fast and easily help people understand, and you don’t want them to understand what you’re communicating. Peasants.
Unreadable fonts are the best.
7. Make the CPU load extremely intense.
Discrimination is important: people who do not own expensive hardware or fiber can’t navigate the internet. So fill everything you design with thousands of animations and scripts.
6. Disorient the user with asymmetric design
Similar objects = similar sizes? blasphemy. Gestalt had been banned years ago. Make everything randomly different, especially if you sell something.
Asymmetry on the go.
5. Use timed pressing to activate the UI.
Clicks were used in the Usability era, and you don’t want to be put in jail. So to activate a link, just create a pressing script with forces the user to press for a prolonged time.
4. Use random 3D.
Three dimensions are the new black. Just put 3D everywhere you can.
3. Develop with dirty HTML generators.
Nowadays designers develop, and developers design. So just take your favorite HTML generator like Webflow and go for it. Just don’t care about those 3000 nested divs.
2. Full Gamification is the key.
Designing a website? An app form? Just “gamificate” the full process. People have tons of free time, and indeed want to spend five full minutes in your product intro.
1. Never. test. your. product.
The 2045 Geneva Convention established that testing multimedia products on humans is a crime, and you have to remember this every day. It’s the most important commandment.
Do not torture poor users. Never test anything.
The voice vanished.
In the end, the voice of the past vanished, leaving me alone in my soft warm bed, scared by the commandments.
Now, I hope that you understood that the whole story is sarcastic, and these commandments are things you shouldn’t do (absolutely avoid) when designing websites or apps.
Design isn’t dead nowadays but beware: websites like Awwwards and Dribbble promote an aesthetic and technical type of design, which not always means usability. We must understand what should be done, and whatnot. A bad looking usable website has always to be preferred to a beautiful completely inaccessible one
A Jack of all trades UX guy. Mainly interested in human-computer interaction, contemporary sociology and art.