The genesis of this article popped up as a direct result of reading a series of comprehensive articles and posts on the homogenization of digital products (web and app centric in particular). I’ve read multiple articles that have highlighted the fact that the uniformity and utilization of recognizable design patterns (alongside the established Material Design from Google for instance), has made interactive products more usable, with a superior experience for the user, all the while creating an endlessly repetitive set of products, something that even impactful branding and marketing can’t make sufficiently relevant. This is indeed an interesting issue that has made itself quite relevant, one that I’d expect forces/pushes design professionals to look within, and come forward with something that is quite unique: a point of view. Every designer is indeed a problem solver/thinker/strategist, one who collaborates with dynamic and challenging teams in the pursuit of something that is simultaneously tangible, indelible and hopefully so rewarding that the user will use it endlessly and hopefully recommend it to others. Each professional has a methodology, a process through which they familiarize themselves with the product and the brand they’re working on, and eventually from this process, a solution gains substance, is discussed, labored and eventually built into something that can be tested (the Design Thinking process of course). This process is somewhat universal (with different levels of granularity and specificities to certain teams of course), but generally speaking, the results anchor themselves in metaphors and trend adoptions that the user is familiar with (and hopefully best practices that the design industry has long adhered to). Where indeed the design professionals make a contribution to a deeper and more involved solution, is their unique point of view: how the product solves indeed a need (recognized or barely incipient on the market) is definitely basilar, but in parallel with this component, there’s another equally important component to this exercise.
The designer is also a storyteller — each product, each application, is in itself a story being written and built, to engage a user. This story is as compelling and as fascinating in the direct proportion of how the designer (and the teams working collectively with that professional) chooses to convey it — hence the importance of having a point of view. Having a point of view isn’t simply having a talented visual design professional and team that puts a different spin on a brand — it’s a process by which the essence of a brand, and its philosophy can be effectively expressed through the products that are built and through the company/group itself (at the risk of using the all too familiar Apple example, that is a brand that is synonymous with innovation, pioneering technology and edginess, and that has been built throughout years of cultivating that association, but above all, nurturing a brand, that comes across in every facet of what is produced, from products, both software and hardware, to retail stores, hardware, marketing materials, recruiting processes, etc). The fear of every solution and interactive products becoming too homogenized is there — we need only to look around to see how brands cannibalize each other endlessly (and Jakob’s Law effectively demonstrates that users expect to find repeatable patterns and experiences). It’s up to designers and their teams to effectively convey their uniqueness, to have a distinct voice, and utilize the standards available as tools to better communicate stories and brands. At the risk of sounding like a cliche, endorsing originality, creativity and a point of view in the design world, is now more than ever, a tremendous opportunity and something of paramount importance, for brand longevity in general, and also for all design professionals in particular.