Once a month, my office colleagues
have to sit through love the portion of our staff meetings where I propose new ideas, show some cool research or invite us all to think a little deeper about our profession.
These days, I’m really focused on design. It’s partly due to a major project I’m fostering to improve the customer experience across the entire government. I’ve also recently written and analyzed a usability test for a new product we’ll be launching soon. The paths people took to complete the tasks asked during the test served as vivid reminders that very deliberate choices must be made to deliver a good customer experience.
For these initiatives to succeed, for daily communications to work or for emergency information to flourish, we have to design with intent. In a world of a million messages, that’s not easy. I used to simply express this idea by stating we have to be precise.
That’s not good enough any longer, nor does it express enough depth.
Designing with intent is the deliberate choice to focus on every detail and constantly change, adapt and/or improve a webpage, user interface, message, internal process, social media post and much more. This may seem obvious, but as many of us in the government space can attest, it’s sometimes more commonplace for people within the organization to say, in a crude sense, “Here’s a Word document. Post this online as it is” (which often equals 10 paragraphs of dense text).
I shared three videos with my colleagues that I’ve embedded because they weave together a wonderful narrative about this journey of intent:
1.) “Designed By Apple — Intention.” A new campaign from Apple that focuses on its design principles. My favorite line and my new mantra: “There are a thousand ‘no’s’ for every ‘yes.'”
2.) “The Three Ways Good Design Makes You Happy,” by Don Norman, who shares research and examples of emotional responses to design.
3.) “We Are All Designers,” by John Hockenberry. A fascinating, deeply personal expression of design and intent.
Just as we are all communicators today with smartphones in our pockets, I agree with John Hockenberry that we are all designers, too. Are these calls for perfection? No. Apple is far from perfect. I’m sure the other two speakers would join me in saying there’s no “perfection button” in life.
However, we can strive to make deliberate choices to design with intent and sharpen the focus of our work so it can be clearly seen/navigated/searched/consumed/enjoyed by all. We have to design with intent. We have to communicate with intent. We must deliver, with deliberate focus and passion, the words, graphics, images, videos and engagement we need to share.