Cooper Ch. 14 Visual Interface Design

Posted: November 11, 2010 in Reading Notes

For some of you, the principles of visual interface design in chapter 14 are old knowledge. For some other students, it may be the first time you are exposed to this information.

Either way, I’d like to know, what stood out to you as one of the most useful concepts or principles from that chapter?

  1. hanjunxian says:

    I enjoyed reading most the discussion of whether designers should follow standard. This has been a question for me for a long time. To me, it used to be a question of being radical versus conservative. Every time I kept struggling between innovating new design to not only show off my skills but also try to transform users’ mind towards a more ‘reasonable’ and ‘effective’ direction. However, I often ended up compromising the new but incompatible features because users did not get it. I was upset but had to follow the boring standard. I totally agree with what Cooper finally said in a conservative manner, “Obey standards unless there is a truly superior alternative”. However, it is difficult to validate whether a certain alternative is superior because the alternative may not even get a chance to sustain.

    • Standards are a question I struggle with as well, Hanjun. Is it better to do something innovative, or do we need to focus on completing the work in a way that achieves the goals of the project?

      At the same time– and I wonder if this is what you’re thinking as well– if we constrain ourselves by focusing on following a set of procedures, how can those new and possibly superior alternatives come into practice? It’s a very fine line to walk, and it can also make the process of design (whether it’s in research…web….print) a challenging experience.

      I’m curious to further this conversation with you!

  2. I maintain that the most crucial part of the chapter is the reduction of interference in design practices (noise). From a basic communication perspective, anything that interferes with delivering a message can impede that user’s ability and desire to want to interact with that tool. Reducing noise is a good way to think about visual efficiency (as Cooper et al. discuss) and how to best communicate good design practices.

  3. swoodall says:

    In response to both the concept of following standards for design and the reduction of interference and noise, both are valid points of argument. What is even more interesting is the idea of remaining conservative and attempting to “stand out” as a designer. This is that fine line I think of when approaching any given project.

    Now, let’s throw some behaviors and trends on how people are processing information in the digital era. We are growing up in environments where literally stuff is thrown at us in a short amount of time. Leading to information overload at times, this raises a serious concern. Are our brains adapting to this chaotic way of processing images, graphics, designs, or really any information to the point where the “standards” are not effective anymore?

    Here’s an example, go through some designs and count the number of times you think, “Oh, I’ve seen that done before,” or “That’s a very common approach to display that information.” Then, pick out designs that really stand out as unique. Look through your picks and see how many of them follow the standards conservatively. I did that and found that I am more attracted to designs, videos, and graphics that don’t conform to all the standards. They may keep some basic standards depending on the purpose of the piece, but it’s amazing the number of people who are getting fed up with the repetitive, boring designs. There is a reason we transitioned from “static” to “dynamic” on the web. People are expecting more: more interactivity, more engagement, just more options. It almost invites a healthy amount of noise into your project.

    Now, the trick is defining the right amount of breaking standards, adding noise, or going against the grain and what’s common. How can we capture and maintain an audience while not making them confused or sick of our designs?

  4. mystev says:

    It is very true that setting standards could derail innovativeness, especially for those who perceive standards as a rigid set of rules. However, as leaders of the design industry, our dear writers (Cooper et al.) seem to be setting some kind of parameters within which designers have to work if their objective is user satisfaction. My understanding here is that within these parameters (or standards) there is still room for innovativeness. This is why the writers would not impose a specific color, for example, on designers. The face on ones product then depends on the creativity of the designer, even if restricted. I guess there can be creativity in simple design too, whether it follows a somewhat flexible set of rules ot not, or am I getting something wrong?

    And, yes, I agree noise is a distraction. I hardly concetrate with noise. However, I would go for the principle of keeping design simple. It has been consistent and virtually everything else in chapter 14 is tied to this principle.