How Do You Make Design Decisions?

Posted 4 months ago by Gal Shir

As I sometimes dig inside my work process, trying to understand what’s going on inside my head while I design, I started to realize what drives my decisions and thinking process.

Pushing pixels, placing objects in the space, and adjusting colors, sizes and shapes, are not an easy tasks. How should a designer know what to do? Are there any rules in design? Does every designer lay his personal “rule book” wide open on his desk from 9:00 to 18:00?

Lately I’ve been dealing with some challenging product design tasks, placing me in a spot where I have to make hard design decisions. While struggling with the composition of some objects on a single screen, I noticed there’s a guy, called “the voice inside my head”, telling me exactly what to do…

“Hey you, focus! Try pushing this title to the left… Ok, forget it, let’s center everything… Oh! This button should be green, absolutely, green. Trust me!”

And I follow his orders blindly, like a robot. Move my fingers on the trackpad as my master commands.

I think everyone talks to themselves (at least I hope)… It helps us process our thoughts better, and create order inside our heads. But where do these voices come from? What are these voices based on?

A. Experience Based Design

For the experience based designers, every design decision is a conclusion of the results of similar decisions made by them in the past. Experience is powerful, and designing based on experience seems to be the safest option. They aren’t afraid to say “I don’t know” when they have no related experience with a specific design task.

“Experience is powerful, and designing based on experience seems to be the safest option.”

B. Intuition Based Design

Intuition is tricky, but is still the most common type of decision making tool among people. Designing based on intuition is probably the best way to work fast, and get stuff done in no time. Our intuition tells us what to do by having us “feel good” about something. Yes, designers make a lot of mistakes by following their intuition, me too, a lot. But following our intuition is something we hardly can take away from ourselves, and that’s what makes us human designers.

C. Reference Based Design

These designers have a BFF called Dribbble (Or any other reference around the world). They base their design decisions on other designers’ decisions. The obsession with being up to date with new products, trends and styles, makes these designers powerful. Unlike experience or intuition, design based on references is out of the designer’s comfort zone, out of what he knows or what he feels. Also, using a reference is the best way to learn new styles and perform diverse techniques.

“Using a reference is the best way to learn new styles and perform diverse techniques.”

When I noticed what that voice inside my head is comprised of, I immediately realized that all three cores (experience, intuition and reference) are necessary, and as a designer I should listen to that voice. Now that I know where he’s coming from, I can truly trust him, blindly.

How do you guys make your decisions? I would love to know.
Thanks for reading! Write to me if you have anything on your mind.

Gal Shir
galshir.com

This article was originally published on Gal’s Medium page.

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