Intuitive is the New Cool

How many times have you heard that some app or website is not intuitive enough? Among designers, “intuitive” has become the new holy grail of design. It successfully dethroned “unique,” the long-lasting champion of cool. Perhaps, unique was not intuitive enough?

If you dive deep into design history, you’ll see that the concept of intuitive is not new, however, and that it is closely tied to context. In Just Follow the Arrow, I wrote about how hunting provided the context to arrows and made them one of the most intuitive symbols ever. 

Today’s context-savvy audiences require very little to understand most messages. But some designers tend to miss this fact. They seem to be seduced by aesthetic trends and neglect the context. For example, a few years ago, UI design moved from skeuomorphism to flat design, and the (design) world became flat again. Blindly insisting on a design trend when the context requires a different approach, however, is not only counter-intuitive – it’s deeply ignorant.

Here are some examples of past and present intuitive design.

Pictograms for the Munich 1972 Olympics, designed by Otl Aicher. Source: olympic-museum.de  

Pictograms for the Munich 1972 Olympics, designed by Otl Aicher.
Source: olympic-museum.de

 

Material Design by Google (2014)

Material Design by Google (2014)