Delight in Design

I’m animating a user interface video for our studio final, setting my head on the desk to rest my eyes at 45 minute intervals, squinting at keyframes milliseconds apart for hours. Ready to call it a night, I export to Media Encoder and watch the frames tick away. It’s five seconds long. A dozen little hexagons flex inward, creating tension as the text on them swipes away, then they burst forward, changing color and rearranging into a new layout. It’s five seconds long. Five seconds but they feel alive in that time, responsive and intelligent. In the coming week I will have to redo half of it, make it fit into a dozen other moments which will distract from it. And I know that the client will never really notice this — they won’t notice the anticipation and subtleties of movement. But hopefully they’ll feel it, they’ll understand on some level that the transitions are graceful.

I’m delighted by that interaction, but am also struck by how different users or designers experience delight in design. The client won’t be struck dumb by any cute little interaction I make, but might be by the thoughts behind it, the notion of ease and connectivity. I think of eBay or Craigslist; hideous-looking and astoundingly functional. Sometimes graphic feels like icing on the UI cake. But if I’m making it I want it to look good, and I’m willing to stay up late for that.