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Design the Experience (Not Just the Interface)

Is digital depriving us of the design experience? 

Feel the key slide into the ignition. Turn it and hear the engine turn over. Press the gas pedal and the engine revs. These tasks collectively create an experience involving the majority of your senses—sound, sight, touch, hearing. The progression of digital electronics often deprives us of this experience.

Designer David Weeks spoke about the tactile quality of design during a recent podcast and it struck a chord. I started thinking, what other products have been stripped of their ability to awaken our senses? Another example from David was the transition to a quiet, smooth paddle shifter. I couldn’t agree more. There is nothing like feeling and hearing the engine down shift before a corner—then shift up and out of the curve gaining speed. I have lost all that in my variable transmission. Suddenly, I have a yearning for that. Anyone have a stick shift I can borrow?

By no means can we take away the benefits of our advancements. As with everything, there are pros, cons and the need for moderation. I will, however, gladly glorify the benefits of—and the need for—tactile interest and textural diversity in today’s design. It is even more important now as we touch, see, and hear more through digital, flat sources. As we design and share, let’s be conscious of the process, the story, and the texture—and make sure we are challenging the viewer on multiple levels.

Here are a few sensory experiences worth their weight in gold (just my opinion).


• The great outdoors vs. treadmills and machines

• Desk full of pens, pencils, erasers, papers vs. computer screen

• Big Wheel vs. battery-operated vehicles




cleverP.S. If you like this post, check out my new favorite podcast about design. It’s called “clever”: (https://www.cleverpodcast.com/)



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