After I finish a project, I sometimes reflect on how much the design is like life. The drama, the anticipation, the expectations, the limitations, the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat. Even though projects don’t always have these elements, the design process involves life-like decisions and perspectives.
Here are a few ways design is like life:
Good design requires white space.
There’s a lot to be said about leaving white space in your layouts. A well-designed document or website needs room to breath, so comprehension is easier and comfortable. Some non-designers think that using white space to share more information is effective. However, according to research by Wichita State University, comprehension is lower with less white space than with more. White space helps with comprehension.
Life is no different. When I jam my life full of activity, it starts to lose meaning and comprehension. However, when I simplify my life with margins of time, I find that I can think and plan much better. And my life is more purposeful. Creating margins of time provides me with adequate rest and the room to be more creative.
Good design requires empathy.
Design is not about decorating a client’s message. It’s about connecting with an audience emotionally. Good design helps them to identify with and act on the client’s message, not just admire the looks. Therefore, the designer must empathize with the audience to do this well.
In life, I realize that just saying something isn’t the same as effective communication. I often have to spend time observing and listening before speaking, so that I understand the perspective of the other person when I communicate. In this way I will be able to help them identify with my perspective. Listen first before speaking.
Good design requires supporting content.
Designers take their craft very seriously. But design can only do so much. It can’t make a bad message good. On the other hand, with good content, design can make the content more persuasive. Designers love it when clients have a professional writer produce content. It makes our jobs easier and more productive.
In my daily life I often need similar support. I can’t do everything. There are times when I lack the time, the ability, or the patience to do certain tasks. And just because I know how to do something, that doesn’t mean I should. Although I don’t always do this, I need to let other people help me. I need to be honest and humble enough to ask for help when I need it.
Good design requires intentionality.
Whenever a designer starts a project, she follows a process. And every step in the process has an intended objective. These objectives add up to an effective design.
When I go about life in a haphazard way, I really don’t achieve desired goals. But when I live with intentionality I have better results. So, I need time to consider what I want for my family, career, health, friendships, spiritual life, and so on. (And I can do this, if I have proper white space in my life.) With this knowledge I start to live life with a clearer purpose. Decisions become a whole lot easier too. I can say yes to the right things.
Design has other facets that remind me of life like the importance of beauty, how every element contributes to the whole, romance, and simplicity. But, I could go on for days.
Anyway, I hope this was helpful to you as a reader. If so, perhaps I’ll pursue this some more. Let me know.