IxD Through Mixology, Chapter 6 Go Unnoticed

At the end of May I presented at MidwestUX in Columbus, Ohio on Interaction Design Through Mixology, and how our careers mirrors a hobby of mine. Many topics were covered and much delayed I am going into detail on many of them. Now to discuss going unnoticed.

In Mixology

A good cocktail should not reek of alcohol. Sure, there are times where the Long Island Iced Tea or Jungle Juice are served, but the majority of cocktails are intended to be enjoyed and should not be produced to turn your nose at the smell of well liquor.

It tastes like a cranberry and tonic, I love it

While all my cocktails have a different flavor profile and some are more pronounced than others, it was this quote in regards to a Blueberry Vodka Tonic that helped me realize the importance of subtly in mixology. Relaxing one Friday night, I mixed the cocktail and very quickly ran out of infused liquor as drink after drink I made more. The drink hit a chord that brought up memories of cranberry and seltzer as a kid and was a vehicle for the night’s entertainment, not something that screamed of alcohol and intoxication.

In Design

Interaction design does not have a smell (ok, not the screen-based stuff anyways). But design can still go noticed or unnoticed. And while we all want to design elegant and attractive solutions, that does not mean we need to design obvious or glaring ones. Good design goes unnoticed and fits seamlessly into the customer’s life. Designing a system that screams at the user, either visually or by breaking mental models is distracting. While there is a time and place to design for obstruction, most design should fit seamlessly in the customer’s world.

So What?

Professional bartenders will tell you that you don’t need fancy liquor for cocktails, using well liquor is just fine. That’s what I use when I infuse, the cheap stuff. The reason is as you make your cocktail the alcohol gets blended in and is not the only aspect in a drink. The same is true in design. The best designs are blended into workflow, experience, and expectations that it enhances the application and task while not being obvious. This isn’t to say don’t innovate, don’t push boundaries. But do it in a way that respects the ultimate goal which is to complete a task (dictated by your customers and clients) and not to acknowledge ‘this was designed’

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