Do not blame me or other creative designers because when we have an art background, we are used to using maximum creativity inside the artwork.
I have read an article a few years ago in Adobe’s Design Center about style versus design by Jeffrey Zeldman, who put an end to the long time confusion about the difference between design and styling. Since then, design has had a wider meaning by controlling the major visual elements on a website or application, with the style controlling a smaller amount of visual elements, such as text size, menus, etc.
Actually, there are three levels of visualizing an idea or project. The first and the highest level is the art level. On this level, the artist has all the freedom to visualize the idea without any restrictions. The second level is the design. In most cases, the design is restricted by some rules, such as the usability and how the user or the viewer will interact with it. The design is also restricted by the output media specifications. For example, a website design must follow web standards and comply with the developed work on the website.
The last level in idea visualization is styling. On this level, the designer has a limited niche of creativity as the designer’s tasks are related to change the text size, headers, links, etc.
As mentioned previously, user experience guidelines will lead to design limitations which creates a continuous conflict between the designer and UX experts when applied. Along with every new creative idea, the UX stands to change it based on how the user will interact with it. The creative idea appears like the exotic beauty in the story of the “Beauty and the Beast”, while the UX plays the role of the beast who looks freaky physically, but inside he is kind and wise enough to take care of the exotic beauty of the idea.
For sure, I refer to the good things inside the beast when I compare him with the UX expert role in the project.
So, let us talk more about creativity and user experience to understand each one’s role and how to end their conflict safely to have a happy ending. After reading this article, you may want to apply what we will have discussed to the latest Apple iOS 7 updates regarding UI design and usability in What Are Your First Impressions of Apple’s New iOS 7?
The visual appearance of a website is what attracts the visitors to check it and dig inside it. Based on our own experience, we can tell that when you have a very useful website with a bad design interface, it is impossible to attract visitors to come to the website and want to learn more about your project.
The website design is restricted by many factors, such as web standards, development requirements, and the user experience of the website. Breaking any of these rules can turn your design into a project garbage. For example, a design that does not meet web standards, file sizes, and other web related concepts can be useless and you might end up with a non-user-friendly website. Also, creating a design that cannot be used to display the site’s functions will turn your design into trash.
A website can be launched without user experience, because that part is related to the website’s visitors and how they can interact with the website. This point cannot be figured out without implementing the user experience process and testing during the design and development process of the website. Wrong functions make it difficult for the visitors to use the website. When the design attracts them to visit the website, the function and the service provided through the website is the real purpose behind their visit. A user-friendly website answers the needs of its visitors and helps them use the website’s functions much easier and faster than a non-usable website.
Now that we have discussed the creative part of the story, let us move on to the UX part and see how we can judge what is the most important part of a project, and what has the highest priority in our flow of thinking. While the UX limits the creative designer’s work to some extent, at the same time it ensures that the project’s functions, services and design will be seen by the end user. However, we designers should also consider this point because it is very important to have our design be seen. The design is mainly created to serve its function and the project’s purpose.
The intersection between the creativity and the UX is marked by the visual elements that are used to display the content and functions, as well as the general structure of the application or website. We can mention these intersecting points as follows:
First and foremost, the design structure is the first step when working on designing the UI. It contains the structure of all the creative elements in the design. However, building the right structure saves us from a lot of trouble to make sure that the design will be usable.
Links and navigation systems are the gateway to all of the applications, website functions and services. A bad navigation may not only harm the design’s usefulness, but it also kills every chance for the user to get what he or she needs in the design. While creative navigation styles may be interesting and attractive, they also need to be usable and allow the user to navigate through the website’s content without missing any part because of a bad menu design.
A website or desktop application is not a painting where the designer can freely play around with the colors and combinations. As I have said, the visual elements should always serve the content. Based on this rule, the colors must be used wisely to serve the usability. For example, a high contrast between the text color and background is essential to make it easy for the users to read the content; black text on a white background represents the best combination for displaying the text.
The main purpose of using media, such as images, animation, video and sounds is to support the content and deliver it in a more effective way. However, the overuse of media will distract the user from the main content. Basic usability requires using the media wisely so that it does not affect the content badly.
The Creativity-Usability workflow
Although UX experts and designers may have conflicting interests, their common goal is to have a successful project and provide a useful experience for the customers through it. However, it is good practice to have the UX expert learn about design and how designers think, and vice versa. This will help narrow the gap between a wild creative design and a wise, analyzed user experience.
Similar to the rest of the project workflow modules, the creativity-usability workflow aims to improve the process to come up with a product that ensures a creative and unique appearance besides being user-friendly and easy to interact with. This part of the whole project process works to ensure a better interaction between the creative and UX experts.
The following steps only focus on the creative UX process, so you will find that other project developing steps are not mentioned:
1. Drafting and Brainstorming
This is the first step where the creative designer starts to draft an idea and the basic concept. After completing the first draft, the designer and the UX expert discuss the idea and how to comply with the user experience specifications as well as the project content.
2. Completing the Design
Based on the agreement between creative designers and UX experts, the designer starts to work on the design and finalizes the design steps to achieve a complete layout. This step also includes working on the development of the website or application to complete the design functions and have a full view of the working design.
3. UX Preview and Testing
After completing the project, the UX expert has another role which is to make sure the project development results meet the UX rules. After the UX preview, the final step is UX testing to see how the design, development, user experience, and every other part works to provide an easy-to-use final product.
User experience is actually more than simply analyzing the customer interaction with the project and more than just some rules to follow. Getting feedback and comments from the users themselves is an important step to continue the development process and keep the improvement flow of the website or application to always meet the clients’ needs.
While the creative design is the beauty, the user experience is the kind beast that may look freaky, but has a great kindness and wisdom inside concerning the design that needs to be viewed and the user can use easily. Creativity and usability are two faces for one aim, which is providing a unique and friendly interactive experience.