How to Harmonize Visual Design and Disruptive Technologies?

It is needless to say that design plays an important role in determining any website, app, or product’s success and credibility. The visual solutions linked to the product before presenting to the user makes a huge difference to the user experience.

Design alters the usability and intractability of a product. It is the design that defines the brand image and satisfies the brand equity. The design also influences the way it is perceived in the market. The better the design, the more credibility.

Design and technology go hand in hand. In order to grow in a nascent market, design determines the product’s positioning in the credibility area of users. However, in a disruptive market, it is the service provided that does the selling.

There needs to be a harmony between the visual design and disruptive technology. It was this design and technology harmony that brought Apple to the top of the market. The visual solutions given to complex problems by Twitter have made it such an important social media website.

Understanding Disruptive Techniques

From a business point of view, disruptive innovation is one that creates an entirely new market. This innovation disrupts the existing market and displaces the ubiquitous products, alliances, and firms.

The concern of disruptive technology is quite the same, but spectacularly different about design and technology. In this aspect, a technology change completely displaces a design format that existed. However, if design follows up with technology, entire companies do not have to go down.

Examples of disruptive techniques displacing designs are the fall of the font comic sans and Blackberry’s trackpad. While due to the introduction of newer technologies, completely new horizons open up for design, some older habits have to be left off.

With the rise of virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and touchless interfaces, consumers expect newer design technologies. Mixed reality experiences change the way users can and want to interact with technology.

Even though a change in technology does not necessarily mean that an existing design pattern has to fall off the grid. However, the usability, understanding, and growth of the same witnesses a massive shift.

A disruptive technique, like the emergence of high-resolution screens, has completely displaced typographical trends. At the time, anti-aliasing was not available to an average user; few font styles like comic sans were ideal. With the disruptive technology of anti-aliasing, the font seems to have poor typographical fundamentals.

(Source : Google Images)

Blackberry’s trackpad seemed to go through a similar shift due to the disruptive technique of touchscreens. The trackpad was ideal for increasing controllability on a non-touch panel. However, when the screens themselves become completely controllable, the continuance of trackpads became moot.

Relationship Between Design and Technology

Even though design and technology seem to be opposites, they’re, in fact, complementary to one another. In essence, the design has to take advantage of disruptive technology and create something that meets current and future needs.

When encountering growing controls that users have for their devices, design technology has to be more software-based instead of hardware-based. Visual solutions to seemingly complex problems created by disruptive techniques create scope for creativity and innovation.

Another important thing to note is that designers have to grow and accommodate according to techniques. If the equation is attempted to be reversed, there will arguably be no dramatic growth in technology. At least not the kind we’re able to see today, as disruptive technologies have become more frequent.

Does Design Always Have to be On Par with Technology?

(Source : https://atlanta.craigslist.org)

This is a question that arises as we see the success of Craigslist, for example. The website, even though extremely useful and popular, features a horrendous design. If design and technology are complementary, how did craigslist become such a success?

On a similar note, Apple became a technological giant because of the brilliant designs of the company’s products. So much so that most companies began to understand the importance of design owing to Apple’s success. How is it that Apple needed to synchronize with disruptive techniques, while Craigslist didn’t?

The answer to these questions is simple. The two companies’ different ways rose to prominence show how a seamless balance between advancing technology and creative design is crucial for a success story to evolve.

Reasons for Craigslist’s Growth

Craigslist itself became a disruptive development in the world of product and service marketing. The website revolutionized advertising, as newspapers began to overcharge for promotional advertisements. It was a revolutionary change in itself.

Resultant to the changes brought about, the visual design did not matter since Craigslist became a disruptive technique. Relative to Apple’s iPod, Craigslist differentiated through disruptive technology.

Companies in competition with Craigslist would have to employ phenomenal design to compensate for what Craigslist doesn’t have. Since Craigslist is the pioneer of online advertising, it doesn’t have to veneer its service user interface.

Reasons for Apple’s Growth

(Source : https://www.apple.com)

Apple, on the other hand, is not the pioneer of multimedia players and computing devices. Even though the products offered were in their nascent state, Apple had to compete with various available devices. Resultantly, design played an important role in its insurgence into the mainstream technological market.

When the first generation of iPod was launched, many companies were doing the same – providing devices that would play multimedia files. To stand out, Apple employed visual solutions to optimize user experience.

The technique itself was not disruptive, but the relationship between the iPod’s design and technology was disruptive. The iPod won over the MP3 player decisively through design.

Tools to Enhance User Experience

Products and services are created for the users, and delivering techniques in a user interface enhanced manner is an ideal approach. Apple’s strategy in the previous section shows how products get an edge over competitors.

User interface optimization is the key to developing successful products. Enhancement of user interface through visual solutions is what makes design complimentary to technology in the first place. Disruptive techniques can only break down eminent products if the design does not cater to the user’s needs and expectations.

The following are a few tools that specifically target user interface enhancement. These tools account for enormous growth with minuscule investment.

The success of Twitter is taken as an example to make the usability of the following tools cohesive. Reverse engineering of Twitter’s web application’s user experience makes these tools more understandable.

User Personas

A simple way to cater to the user’s needs is by getting to know them. This is done by asking them to enter small personal inputs. The inputs can be as simple as their name, occupation, and expectations from the service or product.

Humanizing users helps to ground their needs and understand what can be done to enhance their experience with that specific product.

The inputs provide something called a use case.

Use Case

Use cases are descriptions of the ways a user uses a product or service. They explain what different users like and dislike about the product or service. Their dislikes can be, therefore, taken into account to create a refined user experience.

For example, a few years ago, users could see replies by others but could not see the source. This created confusion, as users could not contextualize conversations. Below is a breakdown of the use case and how Twitter managed that problem.

Name: What is this in reply to?

Description: User persona sees a reply that might be a part of some conversation. To understand the context, the user will have to search for other tweets. The reply might be interesting but cannot be engaging due to a lack of context.

Solution: Display the tweet that the new tweet is in reply to.

This problem occurred due to the user expectations to have everything laid out for them to understand. This expectation was a result of the disruption that Twitter itself created in the networking industry. Twitter made it possible for users to opine, reply, and share ideas, which created an online community’s upsurge.

To encounter this use case, Twitter used a wonderful design visual solution. In the earlier stages of this design improvement, a reply tweet was followed by a link to the tweet it was in reply to; however, with more technological changes, users expected easier solutions.

Twitter encountered this by forming a thread-like visual experience that followed the entire conversation in one place. The first tweet could be found at the bottom of the page, and all replies and retweets made their way up to the tweet in question.

(Source : Google Images)

 

This solution itself was disrupting. This paved a path for newly designed techniques used by Tumblr and comment threads popularly used by Facebook and Instagram.

Wireframes

Wireframes are a way to test and frame possible design changes to address a user persona’s use case problem. They are low-fidelity designs created to envision the possible solutions to be incorporated in a design.

They are test-runs of a newer visual solution that can be tested by users to maximize optimization. The main goal of setting a wireframe is to set answers to the designer’s mind questions.

Relationship Between Visual Design and Disruptive Techniques in Current Times

In modern times, specialization in providing visual solutions is becoming a dire need for designers. This is because the technological world is advancing towards Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.

Virtual reality transports the users to an imaginary dimension. They get to interact with objects in the virtual world like they would in the real world. Augmented reality, on the other hand, merges the virtual and the real world. Through augmented reality, users can see things in front of them that do not exist in the real world.

As the different dimensions come together, it becomes interesting to see how to interact with one another. This becomes a palate cleanser and a creative challenge for designers. They create products and services that cater to the mixed reality expectations of the users.

Owing to virtual reality, many gaming companies have to formalize visual solutions to create a futuristic experience. Augmented reality itself has changed the face of the gaming industry. 3D games are not enough to satisfy the market demands, and hence are taking a major blow.

(Source : Google Images)

If companies capitalize on the disrupting techniques and design accordingly, they can see the growth in the market area. Successful examples of the same are Pokemon Go, a mobile game that was one of the first to utilize augmented reality. Several companies have made Virtual reality headsets and have seen quite a growth in sales.

Visual design is beautifully implemented by the Ikea app, which shows furniture in augmented reality. This allows the user to choose which piece of furniture would look best in their house.

Virtual design is developing in the current time. Designers are in the process of understanding and developing this technology. A harmonious growth that balances visual design with disruptive techniques ensures credibility and success.

Endnotes

As stated earlier, the relationship between design and technology is complimentary, regardless of seemingly being polar-opposites. Any visual solution is required only when a technology change comes into play.

While the disruptive technologies emerge, a change in user expectations and needs is observed. This is because disruptive techniques completely overpower existing patterns and open new horizons of growth and control. Before the emergence of the touchscreen, nobody could imagine interacting this freely with their devices. Though, that is the default and obvious technique now.

An enriched user interface, visual aesthetics, and usability play vital roles in deciding if a product or service will do well. Therefore, all disruptive changes are quickly followed by visual solutions to create better designs.

With a change in user expectations, designers have to take on the task to develop accordingly. Catering to the user’s needs and expanding the disruptive technique to its full potential shows design power.

A harmonious relationship between visual design and disruptive technology advances products and services in ways that could not be imagined in anybody’s wildest dreams. To conclude with, a good rapport with the design and technology results in a better output.