How Design Affects You

Good design, in everyday life, when it’s done really well shouldn't even be noticed.

It might sound like an odd concept, but in my opinion the intention of design is to be seamlessly beautiful. It should make life flow.

Today, I will perhaps give you a different perspective on the world. One that you actually already experienced but just didn’t notice, or just didn’t think about in that way.

Let’s have a little fun and look at how design plays out (the good and the bad) in product design, home decor design, human design and website/brand design.


Flow: Smart phone.

Holy moly! Really, think back 10-15 years ago, who would have thought you can have all of that in a little box that you could put in your pocket or purse…really?!  This delightful device makes life flow beautifully — well, I know there are hiccups with it, but overall, it helps life flow efficiently and consistently throughout the day. You can find your way with it; talk to people anywhere in the world; level a shelf; find out what the temperature is; ask it to look up without even having to type it in ;-), and a gazillion more things!

Oops!: Electrical windows of my Sicon XB, in my otherwise lovely vehicle.

It’s designed with a bit of attitude, plenty of space for my sporting equipment, great fuel efficiency and a great price point.  All good stuff. However, the placement of the window controls do not optimize flow (not the end of the world or anything but…). Ergonomically speaking, the controls are too far forward on the arm rest which makes the reach awkward. A small adjustment in its placement would make all the difference in the flow of operating. See, we notice when design is not done well.


Flow: Friheten couch from IKEA.

Check it out…a nice comfortable couch with simple lines, modern fabric and functional storage space. And, with a quick adjustment, this couch turns into a bed for two… hello design flow! (A shoutout to my fellow Swedes for this sensible design!)

Oops!: Carpet (enough said).

This is mostly an American or British practice. I know you might like it, but from my perspective, carpet just doesn’t make sense. Take for instance the common practice in the US of keeping your shoes on while in the house. One word: Yikes!! I can see how carpet could be soft on your feet or reduce noise, but how about some fluffy slippers instead of tracking all that street grime indoors?!  Hmm…I would have to say this one is just not designed well.


Flow: Dance 😉

I know what you might be thinking: “I’m a terrible dancer!” Nonetheless, I invite you to give it another free-form try, or perhaps even a salsa lesson or two. It is (seriously) perfectly designed to enhance your life. Regardless of how you think you look on the dance floor, every move can be beautiful and have its own unique flow! More than that, you’ll get exercise, connect with your dance partner, meet new people, get out of your comfort zone and appreciate the art form that it is! And if you are a dancer like me, you know all of this already and are just waiting for the COVID times to be over so you can get your groove back on the dance floor.

Oops!: Human Emotions

Whoever designed human beings (based on your beliefs)…might have gotten this one wrong. Consider this: you know how easy it is to get mad at a family member or partner? They forget to take out the trash, don’t listen to you, call right in the middle of something or didn’t remember your big presentation. It can tick us off or make us frustrated or sad. Then, take that exact same experience, but this time from a stranger. I’d venture to say that you just notice it and go on with your day. I’m certainly not a proponent of getting angry with strangers (or anyone), but shouldn’t it be easier to get upset with somebody who doesn’t mean the world to us?!  Not well designed.



I work with a lot of financial advisors, and I’m actually not sure what their opinion is about Robinhood. (If you have one, please share!) But from my perspective as a brand designer and non-finance person, they have done a fabulous job.  I didn’t used to be interested in investing, but now it’s one of my favorite things to do.  Their interface is incredibly sleek and easy to navigate. Great design, great flow.

They have honed in on the not-so-educated investor WITHOUT making them feel bad about it. By saying “investing for everyone” (which is a business model I’m typically not a proponent of), it basically means for those of you who are not so well-versed in the industry we have made it so easy that you will get it. I say, “Thank you!” Now I’m really enjoying finance and investing. Literally everything is done well on their site/app. (I’m assuming my finance folks will say fees are unnecessary, but for me it’s worth it).One final thought. If you know me personally, I don’t get excited about following the news. It’s too dang depressing. However, I still believe it’s very important to be aware. I have come to realize that reading the financials keeps me up-to-date on what’s happening in the world without having to deal with the media craze.

Synopsis: design well done many times around.

Oops!:  Bank of America HSA website

First of all, when you sign into your account, the first thing you see is a slider with advertising for the account you are already sign up for. What!?  The fact that it’s a slider blows me away too. There are a plethora of studies proving that sliders are a thing of the past. Too many calls to action and too much noise.

Then, the list of oops! goes on…

Under the Make A Transaction tab, they default to the assumption that you would like to make a singular manual transaction and finding the buttons to set up or change an automatic payment is nearly impossible! Businesswise, that doesn’t make sense. I could explain in more detail, but suffice it to say, it should never be hard for a user to set up an automatic payment.

Under the Manage your Investments tab, it gives you a 14-step process that you can read on how-to do so, rather than actually taking you through the process step-by-step to set it up. Hmmm.

Lastly, on every page, you have to scroll down half of the page to get to any kind of substance that might or might not be what you are looking for.

Synopsis: I’m sorry BofA, but there are so many no-no’s on this site. I have a hard time understanding how a big corporation like this totally oopsed! on their website design and functionality, making it very cumbersome for the customer to actually use their service.

Engage Me!

If you’re humored by my examples (even mildly), please engage me! I always enjoy when I get invited to view things from a different perspective whether it’s design ideas, cultural backgrounds, unique experiences, etc. We live in a world where we are constantly pushed to learn or get better at something. So, today I hope I delivered some fun and perhaps unique examples on good design flow.

If you have any experiences that have made you think “wow that just works for me!” or “whoa did somebody actually think that through?” — I would love to hear about it.

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