Monday, July 20, 2009

Design isn't just for advertising

As a graphic designer by day, I truly appreciated this opinion article by Allison Arieff over on the NY Times web site. Imagine easy-to-follow, well-designed forms; clear and precise info boxes for your mortgage; signage designed for easy reading (see an older article from the NY Times for examples of this). The article is calling for a national design policy, and while many rebel against this siting a loss of creativity, I think at a basic level it would do much more good than harm.

I think of forms first and foremost. Often relegated to a side task or to someone with no training beyond a good grasp of Word, I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to scream and then redesign forms in doctors offices, government agencies, court offices, grocery stores, banks, etc. A well thought-out and well-designed form always immediately jumps out at me, mostly because it's so rare. I wonder how many mistakes could be avoided with better forms that flow logically, offer the right amount of space for requested information, and have common sense explanations for terms that might be industry-speak. And while a national design policy can't do anything about those horrible forms at my bank, they can remind people that good design isn't just for advertising and brochures, but applies to everything. It can save time, money, and help avoid mistakes.

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