Design Disruptors


On April 25, 2017 I attended the screening of Design Disruptors at the Holmes Auditorium on Alfred University Campus. The film consisted of interviews of several different designers from different companies. It really focused in on what makes successful graphic design and the different avenues a designer can take to get to a good design, especially for web-based and user interface design.

Several of the professional graphic designers interviewed emphasized that design is about solving problems for people. They also put importance on updating designs as the technology around us changes and evolves. As one designer said, the challenge graphic designers face is “solving old world problems with new world technology.”  One main problem that designers need to solve is making sure that the product’s interface is usable by anyone without any tutorial or directions needed. Self evident design streamlines the user experience at every interaction a person will have. In this respect, the best design is “invisible;” it works without the user even realizing that the design is there. How to do what you need within the interface should be obvious. Getting to this obviousness takes several iterations, refining and simplifying the design until the experience of handling it is straightforward enough for anyone to pick up and use.

The process of innovating and adapting successful designs can also be carried out in many ways. The designers at Airbnb use what they call a Snow White storyboard system. The name refers to the animators at Disney using storyboards for the first time to plan out Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. The designers use storyboards in a similar way, laying out every aspect of the Airbnb experience from planning the trip to being welcomed by the host. This helps them identify problems a customer may face, and they then work to solve them to improve the customer’s experience. Another method looked into in the film was called a design sprint. This consists of a group of designers getting together to solve a problem within a week, and showing a prototype to a group of users to get feedback at the end of that week. This cuts out months of work and costly launches of products to get user feedback. It challenges the designers to solve problems quickly with as much creativity and teamwork as possible to get a design they want to show to the general public and critique. Both of these methods can point out flaws in a user interface that designers can then set out to solve.

Design Disruptors is a useful film for any aspiring graphic designer or seasoned veteran. It emphasizes that innovation in solving problems and even looking at them can lead to amazing user experience, but that a good design for today can be a bad design as soon as next year. In a time when feedback from users is constant and instant as soon a product is released, it’s important to focus on making designs that can be updated almost daily for the simplest and most successful designs.

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