From spears to full-scale economies, people have required tools to both operate within and develop their systems.
We’ve used tools to conquer the wild, confront chaos, and turn imagination to reality. While the makeup of these tools has fundamentally evolved over time, two qualities endure; good tools are both useful and inspiring. They are ergonomically sound and, as a result, able to reveal new paths to the people that wield them. In turn, these new paths seek to inform us what subsequent tools will be needed for the future.
Nowadays the tools we use help us organize, aggregate, learn, create, and communicate. As we continue down this path, we need to think about how tools and systems are working to support us (as opposed to constricting us).
We shape our tools and thereafter, our tools shape us. - Marshall McLuhan
Having recently joined the team at Jet Cooper, I’ve found it helpful to reflect on our mission to humanize digital and what that means for the qualities and values that show through in our work. In the context of a design studio (our system), our imagination and creativity (our tools) shape what we’re able to create for others (their systems).
I’ve outlined 7 qualities below that have helped shape the design philosophy of the projects I’m focused on. I try to build them into the fabric of each system I create.
The placing of emphasis on things that matter most to specific people.
The understanding and addressing of the motivations and needs at play.
Allowing people to understand and articulate the relationships they might find in the system.
The provision of pathways for people to move from intent to action.
Lightweight and Peripheral
Products support the experience – they do not replace it. Good design separates signal from noise and allows the user to focus on what they care about.
The referencing of familiar behaviours, metaphors, and patterns in an attempt to be easily understood.
Responsiveness and Iteration
Designing in such a way to capture insights and apply them as learning. Denoting which elements elicit feedback (quantitative and qualitative) by being observable and measurable.