Nuances of simple design

Sunit Singh is a partner and co-founder at Design Capital, a design advisory firm through which he mentors design and product teams at Cleartrip, Ola and Table Hero. Singh is a graduate from Sir JJ School of Art, with a bachelor of fine art in painting, followed by masters in visual communication from IDC, IIT Bombay. He has worked with some of the leading design firms and product companies like Paper Plane, Burrp!, Yahoo!, Cleartrip and Ola

25 Apr 2018 | By PrintWeek India

Simple design
Simple design suggests simplicity in the context of products, which can either be digital or physical. When you conceive a product, the idea is that it should function in a certain way. A designer’s job is to understand the user’s current habits and anticipate what could come naturally to him while using the product. In design, we usually use the phrase, ‘Let’s design as many as affordances as possible.’ I would define affordance as a signal or representation of how something will behave. For example, what do you do when you see a door handle? You naturally pull it, and when you don’t see a handle, you tend to push it.
Being a good designer 
This is why when I am designing, I like to stick to the basics and try not to reinvent the wheel. Don’t be creative for the sake of being creative. I think creativity should be objective and should have a purpose. 
For example, consider that you are trying to change the visual design of an application and you are doing it to make the app warm, modern or premium, or maybe to create a perception of it being lightweight. Whatever the case might be, at the end of the day, you should be able to question your decisions and ask if you have achieved what you set out to achieve.
Also, a lot of designers want to re-design just for the sake of being different. This could actually hurt your users. One must not forget that we all are creatures of habit. For example, all my life I am used to having the first switch on the switchboard for light. And intuitively when you enter a dark room, you reach out for the switchboard on the wall to put on the first switch. The house I was staying earlier, the switch was on the second button of the board. It disoriented me so much that I used to turn on all the switches whenever I entered the house. 
At the end of the day, even high-quality switches, if not placed right, is a waste. I would say, keep your products simple and stupid, but don’t make your users feel stupid.
Asking questions
Bad design creeps up into our life if we become complacent, and accept things for how they are and don’t question it. Any good designer should not tolerate that and constantly keep questioning why things are the way they are and why people do something the way they do it.  
Being a good designer 
You constantly need to improvise and try to make your life better. I have been fortunate enough to have worked with designers from all walks of life. There are multiple avenues that you can pick from, one of which is to get into an art school early in your career. A good designer basically comes with a tinkering mindset. You need to be building stuff early on.

These interviews appeared on Audiogyan, an Indian podcast hosted by Kedar Nimkar. So far, the podcast has 64 posts and more than 65,000 listens. You can listen to the full version of the podcast at