It's difficult for me to think about design as separate fields–graphic design, web design, industrial design, experience design, etc–because for me, the most powerful design ideas encapsulates all of these things. You can call it product design or branding but I call it simply design. And it's the reason why I love this field.
I see such imaginative, thought-provoking, jaw-dropping, inquisitive and refreshing designs from all areas of the field and it gets me excited. That level of design thinking, art, and innovation is what I strive for.
The most thought-provoking work that I've seen has been in product design, graphic design, architecture, industrial design and experience design/installations. But I'm rarely stopped in my tracks by profound web design and when I am it's generally as a result of the graphic design, the content or the branding. The effects are extras and the interactions are functional. It simply delivers information and let's you interact with it in simple ways because the important thing is the content.
It made me think, can the web provide a deeper level of smart, thought-provoking design that adds another level to the graphic design or the content? The web's ability to serve up form and content and allow you to virtually interact with the page is the distinguishing factor that separates it from the other design disciplines. How can we use this virtual space, this interaction to serve up form and content in different ways? meaningful, innovative ways?
I'm not simply talking about the user experience or user experience design. I'm not referring to just usability, though that is important and part of what makes thoughtful, smart design on the web. I'm talking about going beyond the utility or functionality or intuition we build into these interfaces. I'm talking about delighting people in ways that they've never seen before. In ways that are thoughtful and profound and allow you to experience things beyond merely fulfilling a task. It's about using the capabilities of the web to craft experiences that are new and make you stop dead in your tracks.
I can't seem to quite describe it... You know when you see a poster or a book design or a building that makes your jaw-drop because it's so powerful, it serves it's purpose/function AND it catches your breath? It's smart, it's elegant, it's purposeful, it's meaningful, it's beautiful. That's what I'm looking for.
I have yet to really experience that on the web. Though I've been close...
- The New York Times is leveraging the web to deliver thoughtful and engaging content in ways you can only experience on the web with their interactive stories.
- This interactive experience, Echos of Tsunami, in remembrance of the 2004 Tsunami victims by ACF International is a combination of video, audio and visual content that delivers storytelling in such an emotionally immersive way.
- Interactive data visualization on the web
One thing is for sure, that level of web design cannot be achieved without thoughtful and smart content.
On a final note, I will admit that maybe I haven't been looking hard enough. So I'll be looking harder and strive to add more thoughtfulness to my work and to the web...