It's likely you wouldn't have clicked this article if I had titled it: "The Foundation of Brilliant Design." But that's exactly what I'm going to teach you here today.
Design is a unique thing. First off, it is both free and profitable. It costs you nothing to earn the ability, and it pays highly when it's used well.
A designer is someone who can create things more appealing than someone else with the same resources, the same tools, and the same timeframe.
This applies to everything from cooking and landscaping to websites and fashion. Let's not pretend like we don't notice it either. We all have those friends who seem to have better style, charming homes, stronger websites, and cleaner brands. What makes it even harder to swallow is that it doesn't cost them more money or more time or more anything. These people just seem to have a unique ability to choose, create, and curate better than others. And it's this ability which we will be discussing today.
So what makes up brilliant design? What are good designers doing that you aren't? Can you learn design or is it something with which you're born? I'll answer all of these questions within my four points below.
1. A Highly Sensitive Persona
I'm a designer by trade and by trait. Everything I put my name on comes with a sense of thoughtfulness not equally expressed by those around me.
As it turns out, I'm sensitive. While I do fit into the category of "crying movie-watcher" and "sentimental father," I am also strong in the face of adversity, insult, and confrontation.
But in my experience, the best designers are hypersensitive to the emotions of those around them. They can see the invisible elements which provoke mood, feeling, and tone. They understand the benefit of controlling those emotions and do so through the design of a room, or a website, or an event.
Design is the exceptional ability to create items that produce the desired response. Jonathan Ive, Lead Designer for Apple Computers once said, "Design is emotional intelligence made visible."
Those who've been called inconsiderate, are likely poor designers.
Are you sensitive? Are you aware of how visuals, textures, sound, and smell can change an experience? Are you conscious of the undertones of your customers or house guests or colleagues?
If you want a beautiful business, you'll never create it without a ruthless sensitivity toward others. This week, practice feeling. Practice noticing how people react and respond to your creations. The closer you get to this, the closer you'll be to a business worth buying from.
2. A Heart Of Hospitality
I've always defined hospitality as: "The act of showing someone their value." As entrepreneurs and designers, it is our duty to show our appreciation to our customers. But more than that, it's to remind them of their worth.
Design built in the heart of hospitality churns out experiences that drive people closer to you. For example, in business, good design tells customers that if they care this much about the small details, then they must care about me.
On the contrary, an entrepreneur whose product or customer experience fails to exceed the expectations of their customers, it tells people they must not care about me.
The same is true of a clean home. A house prepared to appear orderly, relaxing, and inviting is not merely a statement of your personal expectations, but a direct expression of how valuable your guest is to you.
The heart of design is when people leave your business and feel better about themselves, not just better about you.
How well is your business, its website, its products, and its service communicating value and worth to those who purchase? Are they being treated as a cherished guest in your home, or a stranger simply stopping by?
3. Empathetic In Everything
I once read a white paper which defined empathy as, "The act of understanding the experience of others without having their feelings, thoughts, and experiences fully communicated to you in an objectively explicit manner."
Anyone can care for someone after they hear the entire story. Just like any business can improve after reading customer surveys. But what's special about real empathy and those who have it, is the ability to care, predict, and feel without the entire story.
The human heart is intrinsically attracted to those who care. To those who listen. To those who understand what most miss.
Empathetic design calls for the skill of "othering". The act of speaking to people how they need to hear it, not how we want to say it. Designers who have the capacity to step into the shoes of their audience – their emotions, their story and their needs are the designers who sway loyalty. They are the entrepreneurs who create brands that last.
The lesson here is empathetic design can accelerate depth between you and your customer. Whether it's the words you use on your website or how you position yourself on social media or even how your products are packaged. Trust is the currency of success. And without empathy, you'll never build the bridge required to cross from one-time patron to faithful customer.
Are you creating for others or are you creating for you? This week, consider one or two ways you can have a more empathetic approach to the things you create?
4. Creation Over Career
Look around you. The carpet, the walls, the desk, the clothes you're wearing, the device you're on, and the building you're in. All created by an entrepreneur. By a designer.
Everything that is created was done so by someone who had an idea. A designer who wanted a better product or a better brand.
It's my belief that the way you do one thing, is the way you do everything.
While your design journey might begin behind the lens of a camera or with your hand on a pencil, eventually that skill will bleed into every area of your life. From the products you buy and the clothes that you wear to the type of chair, you purchase for your home office.
In my experience, the ultimate designers design their life. They create a business and solution aimed to fulfill their desires. To feel cared for, to be alive, to have purpose, and to have significance in the story of others.
So if you're a designer ready to quit your career and create your calling, don't be intimidated on where to begin. I have designed a course specifically for you. One with sensitivity, hospitality, and empathy. A course and curriculum aimed to fulfil my mission, your dreams, and our relationship. If this is something you're interested in, consider my program below.
As you're starting to see, design has very little to do with knowing how to use Photoshop or how to wield a paintbrush. Design is about your eye. It's about your emotions. The execution is independent.
For example, Steve Jobs likely never used design software during his time at Apple, yet he made the designer hall of fame. You see, the ability to direct design is just as powerful as the ability to create it. As I mentioned earlier, design is free. Both you and I are designers. The question is how in-tune are we to what makes something truly great.
- Good design is amplified when we are sensitive to the emotions, needs, and responses of others.
- The items you create should show people how much they are worth to you.
- Good designers can drive deep loyalty by predicting what people want through intuitive empathy.
- If you allow design to bleed into every part of your life, you'll eventually create your own business.
What are your thoughts? Are you a designer? Was this helpful? Do you have anything to add? Let me know in the comments below.