The Importance of Design

I’m not even halfway through the latest episode of Vector, but there have been so many great quotes about topics that have been on my mind lately, I had to write a quick post about it. Rene Ritchie asks:

“When should you give users settings and choices and options, and when should you do that heavy lifting for them?”

Straightforward question – and the answer was obvious to me up through a couple years ago. We should be given as many settings, choices, and options as possible so we can optimize our experience to fit our every want or need.

I’ve changed my mind, however. Here is the candid response I gave to my brother when he recently asked, “Why do artists use Macs?”:

“PCs are for people who want to have a computer and do computery things – experiment with them, customize them, optimize them, etc – and that’s fine. The Mac is more for people who want a computer for getting stuff done rather than have to deal with anything related to the computer itself.”

Dave Wiskus shared similar thoughts with Rene in response to his question:

“I lost so many years getting the software to work that I could’ve spent learning the software. If I had spent that same amount of time in front of a Mac learning Photoshop, I would’ve been years ahead of where I am now. That’s time that I, and so many other people, have lost. And so now I feel that my job in designing a piece of software is to not steal that time from people. I want to make sure they’re not wasting their time trying to figure out how the app works, and instead writing their note, and then moving on.”

In essence, a designer’s job is to reduce the friction between a person and their goal, whether that be creating a design, jotting down a note, sharing a photo – basically anything. The fewer steps there are between a person wanting to do something and achieving it – the better the design.


“The apps that I like the most are the ones that don’t let me mess around – they basically force me into doing what I’m supposed to do. In a way, it’s sort of enabling. Yes, I can’t customize the way I want. That is a loss, but the gain is so much more valuable.”