User Interfaces should not be Designed to Last

One of my all time favourite books is “Designing Design” by Kenya Hara, the Art Director for Muji.

In the book Hara describes the ethos behind Muji products is they are not meant to last. They are meant to serve a purpose, get worn, get replaced.

When we embark on digital projects we are faced with a few questions that keep coming up again and again, one being: “Is it future-proof?”.

Technically we can make digital products at the very least future-resilient by creating design documentation,  pattern libraries, following good coding standards etc. But from a user experience, should we?

People’s expectations of the Internet are constantly changing.

It is not practical, or possibly even possible, for digital products to change as rapid as people change their behaviour, but we do need to think harder about the expiration date of our work, because there is one and it may be sooner than anybody expects.

“Designing Design” has a white cover to cleverly illustrate how products get worn over time. We can see the wear on physical objects.

We cannot see the wear and tear on online products.

The only real indication we have, is when customers stop using our digital product or starts complaining about it so we need a landscape where we can adapt the UX to grow with our customers.

It is important we educate our clients in the benefits of constant review and reiterate beyond launch. It is important we explain that UI will be getting older from the day it launches and the experience will reach a point where it falls out of touch with the end-users expectations. It is important we prepare for that day and are ready to replace and reinvent and do it fast.

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