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LGSS Digital Blog

Service design for local government

Lawrence Mburu
Designer

Books, wine and road signs

I was having a chat with Dan Blundell the other day about appearance and quality and how we are biased towards things that look good.

A couple of weeks ago, Dan gave me a collection of books, so I was thanking him and saying it had been a while since I had a book lingering on my desk at home but now I keep one with me, particularly the most elegant book – Universal Principles of Design.

People say never judge a book by its cover, but it seems rather common for people to react to the appearance of a product, be it a bottle of wine or a car, and get an attitude towards it without really examining the quality of the content. But there’s something more about looks and quality. If someone has worked hard to design a great cover, it is highly likely that they worked equally hard on the content too.

“Our design driven by purpose. There are no unnecessary lines patterns or pictures added just for decoration.”
Lawrence Mburu

Where is this going?

Books, wine, content, cover. I know. All am trying to say as a designer is, I believe in the universal principles of design. These are truths that will never change, and these are the basic guidelines that apply to most, if not all things in life.

You may have heard of the 80/20 rule, or concepts like balance, affordance and hierarchy. That’s what I’m talking about here.

Invisible design

Our design driven by purpose. There are no unnecessary lines patterns or pictures added just for decoration. Every element, every space has a purpose or meaning.

The harsh truth: 

Our work will never escape judgement purely based looks ☹

The good news: 

When something is done right, people do not even notice anything was done at all! The design becomes “invisible.” In this spirit, we endeavour to create digital interfaces that will get people where they want to go and not leave them chatting about the colours, fonts etc. More or less like road signs that can guide you from Northampton to Marseille in France across 2 languages. They get you there safely, yet they do not become the highlight of your journey. You do not stop to marvel at the beauty of a road sign or go home sad because in France, the signs have a different colour.

Well, I hope you won’t start analysing road signs, and you haven’t googled “affordance.”

Have a lovely weekend and enjoy the sun, a good book and may be a glass of wine.