Design is a collection of rules. A system of grids, of hierarchy, of patterns. It’s a methodology that has been refined over the years by masters and studied intently by students. It’s the laws and guidelines that govern how we see and interpret the world around us. Design is persistent, it’s proven, it’s fact. It’s a powerful foundation for a towering structure, the driving force behind communication and commerce, authoritative and imposing.
Design is intentional.
Design is breaking the rules. Understanding when it makes sense to throw off the chains and do something different. It’s the unique solution that makes sense for this particular use case. It’s an intimate knowledge of the specific problem and the creative know-how to solve it. Design is bold, it’s brash, it’s confident in its methodology. It’s cutting edge, it’s pushing the envelope, it’s the one thing that hasn’t been done, but has to be done.
Design is intentional.
In the web design world, we have rules all around us. Dozens of frameworks with their own sets of grids, buttons, tabs, menus, and other reusable design elements that make prototyping quick and easy. Best practices for column sizes, for page layouts, for usability, for conversions and clicks and calls to action. Psychological studies on human interfacing, eye tracking and mouse tracking. Specified device sizes and bandwidth considerations, mobile and tablet and desktop and retina, responsive and adaptive, mobile first and content first, graceful degradation and user experience.
These rules serve us well by preventing us from re-inventing the wheel. The rules are there because they make sense, because they have been tested and shown to work. But they are not there to be followed blindly. A designer knows exactly why these rules have been put in place, what makes them so effective, and what problems they solve. It is this knowledge of Why that enables a designer to break these rules by introducing new whys, new variables and new features into their projects.
Arbitrary rule breaking is lame. Deliberate rule breaking is fun.
A designer has an understanding of the architecture that is in place, and the rationale to tear parts of it down and build something fantastic and useful in its place.