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What defines good design?

We asked our in-house design master Xinyu Ma to answer a simple yet challenging question. What is good — continue reading
February 26, 2020

We asked our in-house design master Xinyu Ma to answer a simple yet challenging question.

What is good design and what does it take to achieve?

Good design is meaningful, accessible, usable and attractive. The challenge in the design process is not to choose which aspect to sacrifice but to seek the balance between them.

A usable but useless product is not well designed. Good design must not be boring either.

Function model

How does good UI /UX design affect the end-user? 

Good design gives its end-users an effective, efficient, and enjoyable experience. It makes them feel good about themselves.

Good design also prevents errors, sometimes high-stake errors such as for drivers and pilots.

Nowadays, people have so much information to process every second. Any extra click feels like one too many. Recently I rediscovered an old phone from a few years ago. Everything is still working well until I realize I have to type in my pin code every time to access the screen. That was the moment I realized how important and almost necessary the easy login methods such as fingerprint and face recognition are.

What are some of your frustrations as a designer? What are your pain points?

There are two significant struggles designers face daily:

  • Sufficient time to understand the design topic and to find the best possible solution
  • Sufficient resource to realize the design to its full extent

What are you ultimately trying to do as a designer?

Designers play a vital role in synthesizing the knowledge and requirements from different disciplines and stakeholders to create the most value in end-users’ experience and the business context.

How was the process of developing the Skye Theme? Why did you make the decisions that you made?

For the Sky Theme, it started with an opportunity given by a client to improve the accessibility, usability, and visual attractiveness of Open Social.

We gathered the issues identified through many rounds of user testing, as well as reported by our clients. Based on these issues, we created the first design proposal and kept on improving it ever since.

Sky Theme in action

Improved presentation and readability of content

Creating content requires a lot of work. We believe this work should be rewarded with a visually pleasing and readable result. That is why we redesigned the detail pages of topics and events, so:

  • The information and functions are organized better and become more findable.
  • The title and hero images are separated to prevent the accessibility issue caused by unsuitable images.


Improved header menu

We also improved the header menu, so it has a more suitable place for functions such as multi-language switcher and external links.

Improved Header


What questions should you ask yourself before you begin a design process? 

Before starting a design process, it is important to make sure what we are designing is meaningful for the clients and users.

To clarify this, we discuss each design assignment on three levels:

  • Value: what value we try to bring to whom, and in what context? The answer to this question will become a mission statement that guides and evaluates design activities later on
  • Interaction: we tell a story about how defined value can be achieved. The story outlines the best scenarios and processes users should go through as well as what happens when people make mistakes.
  • Feature: we look at our product and envision what the feature should work and look like to achieve the defined interaction, and consequently, defined value.


Value, interaction and feature - the design process


What is that you love most about being a designer?

Creating something new and meaningful is a stimulating experience. Being able to do this with the knowledge and skills of everyone involved makes it even better.

More importantly, when I see a newly designed feature helped its users and customers, I feel proud.

Would you like to know more about Sky Theme or add it to your community? 

Contact the team here to discuss just how easy it is to implement.

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