Design can only ever be classed as successful if it fulfils its purpose.
Not if it looks good. Has clever wording. Or is on trend. These elements are subjective and changeable.
If the design meets its objective to get the recipient to do something (or not do something), then you’re on to a winner. It becomes timeless.
Two examples of timeless design are used by millions of people in the UK every day.
Harry Beck’s London Underground map, first designed in 1933, is still going strong today, albeit with a few minor tweaks.
The concept and execution have withstood the test of time because it does exactly what it was intended for: It allows people to navigate London Underground with ease.
Looking at it now, it’s not easy to imagine it being done any other way. But Beck had to fight for his design because it challenged the traditional thinking of what a map should look like.
Beck rightly identified that people would rather know how to get from one station to another quickly, rather than have a geographical accurate representation of their journey. He simplified the design to make it easy to understand and therefore more useful for its intended users.
The best design, particularly design needing to inform, has simplicity at its heart. Information that needs to be digested and acted on by the viewer. At speed.
“What do I want to know, trying to read a sign at speed?”
Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert designed the signs we see every day on UK roads. Launched in 1965, they created a simple method of communication – circles give orders, triangles give warning and rectangles give information. Along with a clear typeface, it’s a system that allows drivers to read and make decisions when traveling at speed.
Again, it’s hard to imagine road signs looking any different. But previously there was no uniformity to them. It was a challenge to read and digest information quickly. It wasn’t safe. By understanding the intended purpose of the road signs, Jock and Margaret were able to create designs that have become timeless because they work so well.
We live in a fast world. Our ways of communicating have gotten easier and quicker. More instant. Our time is precious. So if we want people to not just notice, but understand and act on the messages we put out there, we need to make it easy for them. But we can only do this if we really understand what we want people to do.
Whether it is to learn something, do something or buy something. And we need to understand how the information will be digested.
Get these things right and the design has the potential to become timeless.
We’d be happy to talk to you about how best to design your important information, for free. And then, if we think we can help you and you like the cut of our jib, we’d work together to make sure what you need people to know is coming through loud and clear.
Can we help you with designing important information? Pop your details in below and we’ll be in touch.
A personal story illustrating the pure beauty of being a child with no preconceptions. Which may hold lessons for us all.
New thinking is simply where you need to have an idea that is new. But when you’re knee deep in all that life and work has to throw at you, it’s almost impossible to do without a helping hand.
Promotional thinking is needed when you have something you need us to notice. It could be your business, a new product or service, or an important message you need us to understand.