In order for us to be designers, we have to start thinking like designers. All of us have the capacity to think like designers because we are bombarded by visual messages all day every day. “Some experts estimate that we are confronted with up to 5,000 visual messages each day” (Source). How do we stop taking in visual design and start creating it ourselves? How can we apply what we see (up to 5,000 times per day) into what we do: our business, our work, our brand?
We can start thinking like designers by practicing Garr Reynolds’ 10 Tips: embracing constraints; practicing restraint; adopting a beginner’s mind; checking our egos at the door; focusing on the experience of design; becoming a master storyteller; thinking communication instead of decoration; obsessing about ideas instead of tools; clarifying our intentions; and, most importantly, sharpening our vision and curiosity by learning from the lessons around us (Source). So now that we know the first steps to thinking like a designer, let’s explore how design thinking can improve parts of your life.
20 Unique and Creative Logo Designs proves the power of visuals and shows us what design thinking can do for our businesses. A logo is a visual representation of a company, a brand. A good logo sticks, and we can recognize the colors, the font, and the message instantly.
Take, for example, Nike. Nike’s “swoosh” logo and “just do it” trademark slogan follow many of Reynolds’ 10 tips. Both the logo and the slogan are simple and restrained; both tell a story; both communicate a message and aren’t merely decoration; and both have a clear intent. Nike’s logo and slogan go beyond design-centered thinking; they represent an active lifestyle in American culture. Visual design is responsible and effective when a logo transcends a company and becomes a part of a country’s culture. Consider some of the unique and creative logos in this article. Which do you think rival Nike in creativity, simplicity, and strength of design?
It’s important to remember the difference between design-centered thinking and using gimmicks to manipulate your audience. I want to revisit Prezi in light of thinking like a designer. Prezi’s website reads: “Prezi is a cloud-based presentation software that opens up a new world between whiteboards and slides. The zoomable canvas makes it fun to explore ideas and the connections between them. The result: visually captivating presentations that lead your audience down a path of discovery” (Source).
This week, Garr Reynolds Tweeted this exceptional review of Prezi written by Matthew Roberts of IDeL Thoughts. Roberts writes, “I think it’s a horrible idea to encourage faculty to use a tool simply because of its novelty. This smells like a thin attempt to overcome students’ expectations about faculty knowledge of technology—a ploy that’s usually doomed to fail. Besides, novelty will always wear off” (Source). I agree. Design-centered thinking isn’t about what’s new; it’s about what works. Again, as Garr Reynolds points out in 10 Tips On How To Think Like a Designer, restraint and simplicity is a key feature of good design. Think back again to Nike. The swoosh is a simple, elegant logo; it’s certainly not parading around in a Prezi.
The most important point Roberts brings up is this: “I think it bears remembering anytime Prezi is offered as the salvation from PowerPoint hell. An ugly Prezi is just as bad as an ugly PowerPoint” (Source). Prezi might be the new PowerPoint, but that isn’t a positive thing. Prezi hasn’t corrected any of the problems associated with PowerPoint. Using Prezi doesn’t make you a design-centered thinker. In fact, you don’t think at all when you use Prezi – you just plug content into a premade template. Prezi’s swirling and twirling animations are just like the disorienting flames or comet in PowerPoint. Prezi is a tool – a dizzying one at that. As Garr Reynolds tells us, to think like a designer, we must obsess about ideas… not tools (Source). Knowing what we know about effective logos and visual design that works, we can conclude that many tools often detract from our core message with unnecessary gimmicks. Unfortunately, Prezi is one of those tools.
Have you ever seen a design-centered Prezi? Please leave a URL with an effective Prezi in the comments section. I’d love to hear your thoughts!