Good design, when done well, becomes invisible

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

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

This quote from Jared’s is from a UIEtips introduction to an article by Luke Wroblewski.

Catriona Cornett

I am a User Experience Designer with a passion for making people’s lives better through design. I have helped over a dozen organizations obtain a competitive advantage by delivering great user experiences across desktop, mobile, tablet and other channels.

View My Portfolio
  • http://mokokoma.co.za Mokokoma Mokhonoana

    I totally agree, more esp. in regards to user-interface design!

  • http://davemalouf.com/ Dave Malouf

    While I understand the intention of the quote and the quoter, I think when taken out of context as a sound bite becomes disingenuous. Design is powerful and when done well is NOT invisible at all. It may not be called “design” or “bad design” when done well, but it is noticed. The visceral response of looking at a Porche Cayman or a BMW 7 series is definitely felt and noticed. the unpackaging experience of an iPod is not unnoticed or invisible, nor is that first use of an iPhone.

    What is dangerous in leaving the quote in isolation without contextualizing it further is that it leaves possible readers with the thoughts that invisibility is the real goal, which is not. Engagement in many design contexts is an important goal and to engage the user must feel like they are engaging with something real and tangible and NOT invisible. They WANT to use the clickwheel, physical scrolling, and wii gestural interfaces. They will notice these interface points and often articulate their use and bring their concepts into their everyday speech.

    – dave

  • http://www.inspireux.com Catriona

    Good point, Dave. The quote really does have to be taken in a larger context. If you go into the source article, Jared points out:

    “Few people come to a web page to admire its visual design. However, poor visual design is really noticeable and takes the user away from their task. While we often think of visual design in terms of page aesthetics, the real crime comes when it’s the visual structure that gets in the way.”

    So, really, he means that good design isn’t necessarily “invisible” but that good design shouldn’t get in the way of accomplishing your task. That doesn’t mean the design shouldn’t be engaging or even noticable.

  • Pingback: El buen diseño… | Blog Image & Web Solution

4 Responses to Good design, when done well, becomes invisible

  1. I totally agree, more esp. in regards to user-interface design!

  2. Dave Malouf says:

    While I understand the intention of the quote and the quoter, I think when taken out of context as a sound bite becomes disingenuous. Design is powerful and when done well is NOT invisible at all. It may not be called “design” or “bad design” when done well, but it is noticed. The visceral response of looking at a Porche Cayman or a BMW 7 series is definitely felt and noticed. the unpackaging experience of an iPod is not unnoticed or invisible, nor is that first use of an iPhone.

    What is dangerous in leaving the quote in isolation without contextualizing it further is that it leaves possible readers with the thoughts that invisibility is the real goal, which is not. Engagement in many design contexts is an important goal and to engage the user must feel like they are engaging with something real and tangible and NOT invisible. They WANT to use the clickwheel, physical scrolling, and wii gestural interfaces. They will notice these interface points and often articulate their use and bring their concepts into their everyday speech.

    – dave

  3. Catriona says:

    Good point, Dave. The quote really does have to be taken in a larger context. If you go into the source article, Jared points out:

    “Few people come to a web page to admire its visual design. However, poor visual design is really noticeable and takes the user away from their task. While we often think of visual design in terms of page aesthetics, the real crime comes when it’s the visual structure that gets in the way.”

    So, really, he means that good design isn’t necessarily “invisible” but that good design shouldn’t get in the way of accomplishing your task. That doesn’t mean the design shouldn’t be engaging or even noticable.