Make it Pop? Oh God, Make it stop!
November 2 2016
Phrases like make it pop, wow factor, have fun with it, and jazz it up sound like nails on a chalkboard to a designer. And if you're not dead yet, 'make it sexy'. They are meaningless buzzwords, no different than “synergy,” “diversify” or “innovation” -- words that get thrown around so often in business.
"Designers are missionaries for art within the world of business.” - anonymousWhile it’s on designers to learn the language of business in order to explain design decisions, giving them more usable feedback will improve communication and result in better refinement. Embracing design as a core competency means non-designer stakeholders should strengthen their role by learning to speak the language of design. Otherwise, things get confusing. 'Make it pop' could be interpreted as:
A visceral reaction
The design is missing context
Something feels off
Who is the user?
What are the original project goals?
What problem(s) are you trying to solve?
Is the visual design supposed to create an emotional reaction?
Does the brand play an important visual role?
Are problems addressed meaningfully?
Is the visual design impairing usability?
Are the pain points being solved?
Are the right design paradigms being introduced for navigation, buttons, messages and different states?
Does it pass the Uber test? Does it need to? (The Uber test: I turn on my phone, run Uber, hit a button, and I’ll know exactly when and where my personal chariot will magically arrive.)
Clicks are not a good way to measure efficiency and usability. Fewer clicks resulting in a better experience is a fallacy. If they are consequential, don’t worry about 3 clicks versus 4.
Is the color palette defined?
Are colors harmonious with the brand and meet the aesthetic requirements?
What font styles are used? Do they work? If so, how? (Sans-serif fonts make great headers. Serif fonts lend themselves better to reading large blocks of text. Thin fonts can cause readability issues.)
Don’t use more than two different font families.
Don’t mar your design with poor grammer.
How is information being displayed? Can it be simplified?
Is a grid being applied? Is there enough breathing room? Check spacing and margins.
Is there balance within the design?
Do icons make sense? Icons can be powerful but they also cause confusion if they aren’t well established. Do they have a similar style? Icon families should have similar visual characteristics.
Can animation be applied in a meaningful way to reduce complexity and increase understanding?
Check for consistency: paradigms, alignment, colors, UI elements (buttons, labels/headers, dropdowns, checkboxes, text fields).
Do consistent behaviors relate to each other visually?