And now you know how designers feel

One of my colleagues — an engineer — is completely smitten by Roman Mars' recent TED Talk. In it, Mars humorously yet insightfully skewers the sorry state of most municipal flags, and outlines what constitutes good flag design. My colleague has referenced the talk in several contexts, each time with a similar refrain: "I never noticed flag design before, and now everywhere I look, I see bad design!"

Welcome to the designer's world, my friend, a place where daily life is filled with frustration-fomenting experiences because of bad or simply thoughtless design decisions.

Why is this ATM interface so unintuitive? How come there's no space in the bus shelter for the guy in a wheelchair who's getting rained on? Who thought putting 4pt type on a prescription medicine bottle was a good idea? Where is the menu button?!

Yes, it can be a frustrating world, but it's also a world filled with opportunities for improvement, as Tony Fadell so masterfully details in his recent TED Talk. He starts with the sudden ubiquity of fruit labels, and ends up asking each of us to notice the seemingly invisible design challenges all around us.

So, dear colleague, don't fret over your city's horrible flag. Start a campaign to get it redesigned. Better yet, get your city to do better design...like investing in more intuitive parking signs.


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