Good design is often not about how something looks. Good design is about how well something supports what users need to accomplish.
The URL shrinking service bit.ly is a beautiful case in point.
The way it works is just about as beautiful as you can get it. There are essentially four steps to shrink a URL (via the browser service – you can also download bit.ly as an app, as well as find it integrated into some Twitter apps):
- Ctrl-C to copy the original long URL.
- Go to bit.ly via a bookmark or type in it’s short URL.
- Ctrl-V Enter to paste and convert your long URL.
- Ctrl-C to grab the shortened URL.
The developers have put in the extra work of making sure the converted URL appears, already selected, in the same field. This means you don’t need to navigate away from that field to select and pickup the shortened URL. Ctrl-C Enter Ctrl-V. Easy.
Small considerations like this make a huge difference, especially to regular users. And who wouldn’t want all of their users to become regular users?!
Good design requires sensitivity, to the needs to the users, and awareness of the underlying technology.
Good design starts from a humble perspective of looking to understand and serve the user’s needs (and not from an arrogant ego-driven perspective to blow the designer’s own trumpet.)
People are deeper than looks alone. And good design respects that depth and complexity.