How can something intangible be designed? Designing products or physical goods have been known for years to contribute to the brand’s recognition and ultimately sales of the product. The designed and aesthetically pleasing products will always win over the goods that lack in design. Designing product packaging is equally important. Packages that are designed to grab attention will sell more than those that are only meeting the functional or informational requirement.

“Form follows function” is a principle of design associated with late 19th-century architecture, and industrial design has been known in traditional graphic design. We are starting to apply the same principle when designing user interfaces and digital properties. When a person stands in front of an architectural structure or walks through the doorway, the architect carefully planned experiential impact. We need to apply the same principle in digital forms. It’s been known in the retail industry that stores are designed with a purpose in mind. Where the articles are placed, what is occupying the endcap and what color are the walls or decore. It creates an intangible feeling that helps visitors make decisions and navigate the establishment.

As Jakob Nielsen explains in his blog post titled The Difference Between Web Design and GUI Design – “…optimal user experience requires adjustments to the characteristics of each device.” We are currently challenged with a lack of standards on the Internet, and adjustments are not as easy to accomplish as in print design. “On the Web, the user fundamentally controls his or her navigation through the pages. Users can take paths that were never intended by the designer: for example, they can jump straight into the guts of a site from a search engine without ever going through the home page. Users also control their own bookmark menu and can use it to create a customized interface to a site.” Nielson says.

We have limited assets that we can control; the lack of typefaces supported by the browser and its render is quite different from what we learned in traditional graphic design classes. Innovation in this area will, in the future, allow more flexibility that would ultimately serve the same function as in traditional publishing on paper. Designing user experiences that are planned and carefully organized to bring a visitor to do certain things or visit certain website web pages even when they are brought to the site through the linking or search engine can be accomplished by utilizing visual clues, colors, and graphics. Similarly, we are already using those clues in GUI design and are slowly becoming standardized for web usability.

Thus, we design experiences for digital environments. By using science and technology we determine action plans for usability roadmaps. These usability decisions allow us to craft user pathways and deliver on user experiences.