In a nutshell, visual cues are elements of a design that communicate its purpose and method of use. Common cues have developed over time out of repetitive use, natural association with other cues, and common sense (or the minds natural processes).
These cues are vital to the success of a product. If a person is confused by the cues he/she is left to read pages of instructions. If the cues are wrong he/she will feel betrayed and put-off. If they are obvious, descriptive, and accurate the individual will enjoy their natural like experience.
Have you ever entered a public building and pushed on a door, then realize after your face smacks the glass you were suppose to pull? Usually, you feel kind of dumb and look around to make sure no one noticed, but most likely this could have been a result of poor cues. This happened to me recently, going into Office Max. The first set of doors had a large flat area, perfect for pushing, yet it was meant to pull. The second set had the exact same handle, yet it was a push. Sure, I could have read the large print which described the appropriate action, but my point still stands. Better visual cues = better customer experience.
I’m interested in your experiences, what have you done to design better descriptive cues?
To some of you this may be old news, but I’ve been noticing a change in designer skill sets required by companies. The old way relied on a designer that had great sketching, innovation processes, and communication/presentation skills. This individual would spend most of their time sketching. Then, once a direction was picked, the designer would spend the rest of their time guiding a digital/traditional model maker. As you can see this relies on two people who each know one and a half “languages.” The designer is proficient in the language of 2D and somewhat familiar with 3D. The modeler, on the other hand, is well versed in 3D and lacking in 2D. Together they battle back and forth trying to communicate, eventually producing the final product.
Today’s valued designer is bilingual, well equipped in both 2D and 3D languages. This has two benefits.
1. It produces a cost savings by reducing head-count.
2. It shortens the translation time between languages.
If you’re still in school and find yourself gravitating towards one language, be sure to dedicate some of your time to the other. If you are a design professional, look for opportunities to gain other languages. Maybe you’re already proficient in 2D and 3D, looking for a third skill could only make you more valuable. What other languages have you picked up, and how have the benefited you? Feel free to share.