Intuitive Design




“Good design, when it’s done well, becomes invisible. It’s only when it’s done poorly that we notice it.” Insightful words from Jared Spool.

“Invisible” is used less as a descriptor of what is seen and more as an assessment of how smoothly, or intuitively, a design functions relative to the user’s expectations. In its invisibility, intuitive design takes the user’s activities, needs, boundaries, fears, and expectations into account and integrates into the user’s life in one of two ways:

  • Syncs with the user’s current way of working or living, or;
  • Supports the user’s ideal way of working or living.

In UX, good design showcases the values and purpose of the brand and intuitively integrates its product or service with the user’s natural rhythm. The user experience design centers around the essential needs of the audience which creates a seamless flow from thought to reality.

Don Norman put it this way, “Good design is actually a lot harder to notice than poor design, in part because good designs fit our needs so well that the design is invisible, serving us without drawing attention to itself. Bad design, on the other hand, screams out its inadequacies, making itself very noticeable.”

The essence of good design is that it feels natural. The structure of the information, the layout of the UI, and the overall function of the design should feel new, yet familiar. Intuitive design guides the user on how to interact with the solution without a significant learning curve.  Dan Rubin put this perfectly, “If you find an element of your interface requires instructions, then you need to redesign it.”

Intuitive design requires minimal input from the user, yet provides a substantive result specific to the problem or need the user is addressing. The user should not ever become conscious of the design. Oliver Reichenstein describes design as, “Minimal input, maximum output, with minimal conscious thought…”. Simply put, the construction, presentation, interaction, and result must feel natural—like breathing—to the user. It has to just work. This is invisible design.