Use 'invisible design' to create better experiences

Learn how designers use the 'less, but better' methodology to craft focused, intentional experiences—and how you can do the same for your business!

Use 'invisible design' to create better experiences

The breakdown

  • The concept of "less, but better" is helping drive the evolution of modern digital product design, but it's not only applicable to designers.
  • By examining the motivations shaping your customer's experience, you can pursue 'invisible design' in almost any facet of your venture.
  • There are right and wrong ways to pursue "less, but better."

World-renowned industrial designer Dieter Rams is well known for helping to popularize the notion of invisible design. To quote Rams:

"Good design is as little design as possible. Less, but better."

This ideal is pervasive throughout the digital product design industry. Much like the hardware for which it is designed, modern software often strives for visual and functional simplicity. This isn't only the case for digital products, however. Throughout our 21st-century visual landscape, the more modern aesthetics are often the minimal ones.

"Less, but better" is not a new concept. This methodology has shaped the creative output of countless artists and inventors throughout history. In recent years, however, this notion is making a strong comeback into the zeitgeist. This is especially true in the realm of product design.

The "less, but better" methodology is often communicated amongst designers using another expression: "good design is invisible."

Invisible design:

  • Reduces or eliminates cognitive load for the user
  • Doesn't distract users from achieving their original goal
  • Prioritizes the success of the user above all other motivations
  • Requires minimal input, but delivers maximum output (aka value)
  • Results in an inherently intuitive experience

This notion of invisible design isn't only relevant to designers. It has the potential to inform every facet of your venture. Nearly every touchpoint that customers (or potential customers) have with your brand or product can be made 'invisible' for a better user experience. This is true regardless of your industry.

The key to employing invisible design throughout your venture is to ask yourself one question, often and honestly. For every customer-facing decision you make, ask yourself: Which of my motivations does this decision serve?

If the motivation to help your customer achieve their specific goal is low on a crowded list, consider taking a simpler approach that prioritizes their needs above those of your team or organization. Too often, customers are forced to wade through unnecessarily complex experiences simply because there are too many motivations shaping that experience. Ultimately, the one that matters most is helping your customer succeed.

Prioritizing someone else's experience over competing business needs requires self-control. It also can feel counterintuitive at times. But by regularly evaluating your decision-making this way, you'll be able to craft increasingly 'invisible design' that your customers will love.

One more thing...

Here are some examples of invisible design done right:

  • Paring back the presence of marketing content in the areas of your digital product that only paying customers can see, because you recognize that they don't need to be marketed toward anymore.
  • Taking a minimal approach to branding your physical product, because you recognize that the branding serves a sales motivation rather than user experience and success motivations.
  • Reducing the frequency of your communications with customers, despite your pursuit of a wider audience, because you recognize that quality content in your communications is more important than the quantity of communications.

And here are some examples of invisible design done poorly:

  • Oversimplifying the customer experience to a fault, where it becomes unclear how to use your product—this is counterproductive and usually results in a frustrating customer experience.
  • Failing to communicate your simplification goal to your team—share this goal so that they understand your motivation and can support you.

Venture by Design extrapolates insights from the design industry so that you can apply them to your entrepreneurial ventures. Subscribe for free to follow along!

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