Three inspiring design thoughts for innovation

Here’s a summary of inspiring trends in user interface design — as well as where UI design is heading, many of which I’ve previously written about on this blog.


Move beyond reference points and create your own

Moodboards are often made up from other design solutions. This helps inform the design process but there’s the risk that reusing what’s already there or following specific design trends prevents innovation and means you’re designing in someone else’s shadow.

Randomness should be introduced to the design process but in order to do that you need to embrace failure. Experiment but know when something isn’t working and move on.

Graphic communication that uses distinct styles and reveals the personality of it’s cultural environment is far more powerful and memorable

Indian Street Design
Japanese Map

This sort of design work won’t appeal to everyone, but that’s not really what it’s trying to do. It’s appropriate for the audience and the message.

If design needs to appeal to a global audience it needs to be toned down. There’s danger designers we’ll end up using a bland global design language for everything and these rich visual languages will disappear. That would not only prevent innovation but it’d be a boring world if we all spoke the same language.

Global brands such as Apple often use the same design language for every market
The AIGA attempted to create a set of icons that could be universally recognised globally.
Tibor Kalman then highlighted that the toilet door signs weren’t actually universally understood.

Design outside the rectangle

Design has historically always fit within rectangles because that’s always been the format; from newspapers to books, photography to tablets and mobile phones. However, screens are evolving from rectangles that we look through in to destinations we can move in to. This evolution is happening with the help of software and hardware technology:

1. Gesture and voice control

Content becomes a destination and enables users to interact directly — removing UI elements and giving meaning to the space.

2. Sites with multiple planes

HTML5 introduced panes that could scroll at different speeds enabling a faux 3D environment, eg: or Iutopi.

3. UI in the 3D environment

Games lead this trend because they were the first digital spaced to use 3D engines to render content.

4. Multi-screen UI

An audience may interact directly with a character in a film on their TV to then break out in to their wikipedia or IMDB page on their tablet. Microsoft recently showed this at E3 2012 working with the XBOX, called SmartGlass

5. Augmented reality

Interfaces that exist along side the real world are only just starting to develop. This video by Keiichi Matsuda gives a glimpse of where it could go.

Reactive Design: the future of the UI?

Reactive design can sense the the user; if they are panicking because they are lost, it adjusts and offers help. It they squint to read type, the size automatically increases. It’s an interesting thought when augmented reality merges with a reactive UI.