Masha Reko - Apprenticeship Blog

What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing. (Aristotle)

Day 46 and 47: The Language of Design

Styles come and go. Good design is a language, not a style. ~ Massimo Vignelli

The above sentence is probably the biggest takeaway from my time at the UX & Design team so far. Design is not marely how things look like. It is not there just to make everything look pretty, but also to convey a message; more often than not, colors, shapes and fonts can tell us more than simple words ever could. Therefore, the job of designers bears with itself great responsibility, but its reward is more than just: everything you see whan you open an app, and everything that makes it memorable for the users - mostly belongs to the designers.

What is good design at HolidayCheck? Firstly, good design needs to be clear, or in other words: its meaning should be obvious to everyone. Of course, design should also be simple, and that common saying “less is more” certainly applies here. And finally, when you have a large design team, that is also scattered in different locations, there is one thing that absolutely needs to be ensured, and that is consistency. In development teams, consistency and uniformity of coding styles is certainly welcome and strongly encouraged. However, some differences and “personal touches” are still not that rare. In design teams, on the other hand, these differences have to be non-existent; anything else is simply unacceptable. Anyone who glances upon the design needs to have an impression that it was the work of a single person, no matter how many people were actually involved behind the scenes. Ensuring consistency must also be one of the toughest tasks; how can you make things look uniform, but not kill individual innovation in the process?

What inspires design at HolidayCheck? The very same thing that we are all trying to live up to - the company values. Namely, our designers sat down all together and translated these values to the language of design. They determined both what we want to be and how can the design get us there. In short, HolidayCheck strives to be:

  • Trustworthy; For example, we establish trust through bold letters (which are strong and stable) and round edges (which are much more welcoming than sharp ones).
  • Helpful; For instance, warm colors give a sense of approachability (the colors of HolidayCheck as of now are not that warm, as blue is predominant, but the designers are working on fixing that).
  • Delightful; What makes one delightful is the same thing that makes one special and different than the rest - therefore the design should also be innovative and distinct.

How is designing done at HolidayCheck? Mostly using a web-based tool called Figma. Thanks to Josip, our Visual Design Lead, today I had a chance to see how this tool works, and all I can say is how amazed I was with the fact that it can easily be used by visual designers, UX designers and developers, too. It provides you with a simple interface for designing with the help of previously defined libraries (to ensure consistency!), a way to make interactive prototypes and share them with basically anyone (I saw this one at work during the usability testing on Monday), and a code view that automatically creates CSS code for the developers. You can also see when someone else is working on a file, and even follow their mouse and observe what they do.

All of these lessons I learned not only helped me understand the complexities faced by the designers each day, but I think there is a way for me to apply them on development, too. Most of the design principles that they adhere to can be translated to software design, as well. And I really like their “value-driven design” approach. I’d say it helps you keep the ultimate goals on your mind all the time, which reminded me a lot of the ideas introduced by Lean Development.

On the whole, this has been a very delightful and educating week so far. And it’s only Wednesday! I can’t wait to see what else it has in store for me.