Mind and machine: Using the human touch to harness the powers of automation.
As we look ahead to the design systems of the future – what they are, how to create them, how to deploy them in the most user-friendly fashion – the answer isn’t far off in the distance. It lies somewhere deeper at the intersection of the tools on hand. As the delineation between our minds and mind-like machines blurs, the real question is: Are we using our tools or are they using us?
Across the disciplines of digital and print, across the verticals of foodservice and financial industries, the way forward is a multi-lens layering that pinpoints the optimal solution in light of the factors at play. The immediate inputs are variable by nature, but the process by which we shape them to meet our ultimate goal is a constant.
And it requires a fully human level of thinking.
Good designers are constantly negotiating the intersection of raw creative potential and systematic application. A lasting user experience emerges when multiple lenses overlap, creating the right feeling in the spaces users are drawn to inhabit. Using sight, insight, and foresight to build strategy that is rooted in human truths and scalable to reach consumers where they are and where they’re going.
In the digital realm, fast-take prototypes can now feel and function almost exactly like a fully developed website or app. Programs can take established design elements and rehash them for you to an increasing extent. Automation may feel like the answer to scaling up with less effort, but like any other technological advance, it’s a tool that we have to deploy with intention. In this case, we’d say even more intention than before. As the ease of scaling up increases, so do the stakes.
Today’s client-partner is investing smartly in the tactical setup of their brand’s design system so future details of its application can more easily fall in line. Design execution used to be a singularly controlled process, from physical mockups to on-press color checks in every instance without fail. Not so true today. Designs need a strong foundational framework of feasible elements that can be applied by diverse teams across varied platforms. When the execution moves from one mind to many, the system itself has to do the heavy lifting.
This is where – as Fabricio Teixeira, Design Partner at Work & Co., said so well at the recent Adobe MAX – only one who understands and loves a design system so deeply they feel the urge to take it further can create “unexpected signature moments” and a “visceral feeling of energy” that moves an audience to action. To break a system unintentionally is reckless. To do so with love of the brand’s inner workings is magical.
And what robot could ever accomplish such a feat? Humans win every time.
Which brings us back to the intersection of all things. Building a strong design system and breaking it. Setting up for scalability and incorporating custom moments of high impact. Controlling tightly for design integrity up front and factoring for organic spontaneity in a range of applications. Bringing UX and SEO together with a human-first lens. Creating memorable brand experiences today that linger long into the future.
“The users of your product who’ll never experience your system … they’ll experience the space you’re creating with your system. Make sure you leave room for serendipity and joy. That’s the type of space people want to live in.”
This is a brilliant world to be designing in, where we can explore the power of the human mind amplified by machine. Every design challenge is a new opportunity to break beyond the unexpected while mastering the system.