I am an Engineer, I don't Do Style
I engineer solutions to problems. I build things. By training, by aptitude, by inclination. I do the maths. I ensure bridges built do not fall in the river. Style is an alien word to me. I don't do colours. I engineer.
My First ClientI delivered a product to my first client. A tele-robotics upgrade. A robot and a fancy joystick. Great tele-presence robotics. For cutting up radioactive boxes. High end gear. Superb function and utility.
But the operators did not like it.
- "I have to think about it"
- "It is distracting"
- "Does not flow"
- "Makes me nervous"
- "Too much funny business"
My first product ended in my bin. Client was annoyed. "It is about my operators and their job, not about your product".
Always Develop with Style
That moment, I became a stylist. A product Stylist. Styling my products for ease of use. Where the operator retains his train of thought, his flow, his focus, his concentration, his attention. My product designs must be invisible to the user, while he works.
Always style for your user, and the user's task.
Elements of Style - circa 1900
My first style lesson was - please write clearly
- Write to and for your audience
- Do not say more than is necessary;
confine yourself to what the user needs, to understand what is happening
- Omit Needless Words
Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should have no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unncecessary sentences. Every word must tell.
To improve styling skills, practice, practice, practice
Develop a Personal StyleMy favorite is minimalism. I favour brevity. I keep things simple. In writing, taking pictures, building websites, apps or even fashion. Minimalism is a most effective style.
Nevertheless, always style with a purpose. Style for your User and his tasks
Product Style Pyramid
First rule of product style - please be useful
- First comes content and utility, of course,
- Style for readability and usability even when developing
- Remember the product's identity, narrative and iconography
- Finally, focus on the aesthetics to shape a personality, an affect, an emotion Don’t open a shop unless you like to smile - Chinese Proverb
Style basics have not changed in 100 years. The human eye and the hand are a constant. Style has evolved though, check Kathy Sierra's Cognitive Seduction.