Insights on Creating Great Design

LinkedIn discussion groups are great. A few months ago, I posted the following question to the User Experience group: "What would you say is the single most important factor in creating a well-designed product, website, or app?" I expanded a bit on the question with "Many factors determine the likelihood of a product, website, or app having a great design. I'm interested in learning what you, as a user experience design professional, believe is the single most important factor influencing the likelihood of delivering a product, website, or app with a great design."

There are now over 150 comments and I encourage you to read the insightful individual comments by going to the LinkedIn User Experience Group. However, I thought I would summarize the key insights from the discussion here. 

Many of the comments were rich in detail and often commentaries on previous comments. For the purposes of this summary, I captured the essence of the comment with a few words and then created the Wordle shown above which illustrates with increasing font size the frequency of the items being mentioned.

The cluster of items mentioned most often is made up of user goals, empathy, and user testing. The second most important cluster includes user and business goals and understanding the problem. That's followed by a cluster of simplicity, elegance, and collaboration. The remaining many items were only mentioned by few professionals.

Even though each person was asked to identify the single most important factor to them, which many found difficult, this collection paints a comprehensive picture of professional design experience. It reinforces the importance of connecting with the intended users, determining their goals through empathizing with them and understanding the problems they're experiencing, also factoring in business goals, making sure that designs are simple and elegant, collaborating with team members, and testing designs with users. 

It's interesting to note that items like ease of use, usable, useful, consistent were only mentioned by a few suggesting, in my view, that most professional designers now believe that focusing on the main items in the Wordle will yield these basic attributes and go well beyond them. 

While any one designer may not take this comprehensive view, the collective wisdom of this crowd of professional designers articulates well in my view the most important factors to address in order to create a great design. However, as pointed out in my "The State of Design Practice" post earlier on this blog, many designers know that these are the most important things to do but are not able to do them due to a number of challenges they experience in the organizations within which they work. Addressing those challenges and then focusing on the items identified here should be the goal of every professional designer and design organization.

I'd like to thank the members of the User Experience LinkedIn group for their insightful and articulate contributions to this important discussion.