Web design with a purpose: Who are you designing for?

Designing digital experiences for the everyday internet user is both an art and a science. At Mindbox Studios, we seek guidance from the experts in the ever-evolving best practices for user experience design.

Software giants Google, Facebook, and YouTube have the daunting task of designing with the whole world of internet users in mind, using experts on psychology, anthropology, linguistics, and beyond to solve unprecedented design challenges.  User experience expert Margaret Gould Stewart recounts some of the fascinating challenges that come with designing for humanity at a global scale in the TED video below.


A few of the key principles that Margaret shares include:

  • designing at scale requires both audacity (to believe that the thing that you’re making is something that the entire world wants and needs) and humility (to understand that it’s really about the people that you’re designing for, and how your work just might help them live better lives)
  • when designing at scale, little things really matter – there is no such thing as a small detail
  • data is important for informing design, however iteration, research, testing, intuition, and human empathy are equally important to making good decisions
  • introduce change extraordinarily carefully – it can be as important to design the introduction of change as the change itself

Though not every software startup is meant to encounter the challenge of global scale, the most important point that Margaret makes is one that should resonate strongly for everyone designing user experiences.  These principles provide good advice, but they won’t make a difference unless you understand something much more fundamental:

“You have to understand who you are designing for.”

At Mindbox, we encourage all of our  new software clients to go through an initial discovery phase in order to really dig into this idea before we begin branding or design.  Though the answer might shift as a new software team learns more about the market, the decisions that are made are being based on the right criteria, making pivots less impactful.  Make the most out of your design budget by putting these ideas into action on your next project.

Watch the full video here, to learn more about designing at scale:

Full Interactive Transcript

TED Video Page

About the author

enjoys working with entrepreneurs and innovators to solve problems using technology. She heads up Ascend from beautiful Eugene, Oregon.

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