Design - a playground

What is Design?

Design is an enabler that allows users to interact with an interface seamlessly and effortlessly.

The most seamless and effortless interactions I have seen are those on playgrounds. Children are excited when allowed to run free, try out new slides and swings, fall and learn. They learn by watching other kids climb and try the slide especially if their older brother or sister are effortlessly using a slide or swing.
There are some simple analogies that I would like to point out between the playground and user experience design of an interface.

For the sake of explaining the analogy further I will be comparing

  • The Parent to The designer.

  • The Playground to Your Website design.

  • The Child to The User.

When a child comes to a playground he is usually accompanied by a parent.
So basically the designer (Parent) is hand holding the user (child) on his website(playground)

Parents with their children — photograph by me

Parents with their children — photograph by me

The Playground/ Design
Children love to come to the playground. Ever wondered why?
Its that time of the day when they are out in the open, in a garden where there is more space, freedom and no four plaster walls of their schools or homes. Also their parents/guardians are in a jovial mood themselves.

As a designer you need to make sure your designs are open, offer freedom of use and are a break from the mundane and gazillion other designs in the world.

Types of parents/ designers
A free parent lets his child run freely while browsing his/her phone. not bothering if the child is swinging to high or running too fast. But then there is a hue and cry when the child falls down. Scolding the child for hurting himself/ herself and then deciding that the child is not fit to play unmonitored.

An obsessive parent is one who is standing right next to the slide with his hand forward almost like blocking the kids fictionary fall. even if the kid slightly hits a bump the parent will fuss over the kid and be even more cautious

An Ideal parent is one who is vigilant of his/ her child is playing. Monitoring the child’s movements without interference but there when the child is in need or telling the child to have a go at the slide again after the fall. motivating the kid to try out new stuff and providing valuable information when needed and staying out of the picture when necessary.

The Child/ User
A child come to the playground all excited, ready to explore and happy. The weather is beautiful the energy levels are high. A good playground can enable the child to perfectly channelize all this energy into slides, swings, jungle gym and so on. A bad playground will ensure a queue(wait time)to access the elements of the playground and thus killing the enthusiasm of the kid.

Making your website simple and accessible from various points makes the user happy.
If incase the user loses his/her way on your design make sure there are ample ways of getting back to where he or she started from. Have a Forgiving Design
Your design elements should ensure progress in activity and no roadblocks.

Designs should be like vast playgrounds where a user (child) can learn on their own enabled by the slides (elements of your design).
We as designers should allow users to play around and have fun with our designs.