• Darrin Southern

Design is not just look and feel

Updated: Sep 18

What is Design?


“Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it [a product] looks like. People think it’s this veneer—that the designers are headed this box and told, “Make it look good!” That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.“ —Steve Jobs, The Guts of a New Machine, 2003 New York Times interview


What is UX?


Search the internet, and you’ll find many blogs and memes with this image.

It's supposed to be a comparison of User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX).

Actually, both of these bottles have their own unique UX, neither good or bad.

The main difference being that the one on the right attempts to solve one big problem

- how to better get to the last 20%.

And both these bottles have their own UI.

There’s actually a very similar UI for both.




And now we see the full story. The bottle design has taken over 130 years to transition from glass to the upside-down plastic bottle of today. Let's not forget that the manufacturing methods of the 1800's to today.



Rather than think UX is a design process applied to products, it's all around us.

There's good UX and bad UX, and everything in between. It's how you're treated at the grocery store, it's when you’re putting together furniture from Ikea, or how the apps perform on your mobile device.


Software UI?


For now, particularly in the context of software, let's consider UI as the ‘look and feel’.

  • The colour and size of each element.

  • How each item is aligned to the other elements.

  • This includes how close each element is to the others.

  • Let’s not forget the font choice.

An other way to think about UI is that this is the ‘static’ information . . .


Software UX?


Again, in the context of software – it’s how the software ‘works’.

  • UX includes everything mentioned that is part of UI.

  • The performance is a measure of how long a task takes.

  • The rhythm (cadence) of the presentation of data and actions.

  • Cognitive Load refers to the amount of ‘thinking’ required to perform the current task.

  • Emotion is an often a non-considered factor in the design result.

An other way of thinking of UX is the ‘moving’ information . . .


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