Cambridge University Design / UX group

Designing the details

I found a presentation given last year for the Dallas Fort Worth chapter of the UPA that I thought people might get something from. The speaker, Stephen Anderson, presented “a discussion on how eye candy (or aesthetics) is a business requirement“. Only the slides are available (so no sound), but those are good enough to get the point across.

Anderson compares several “good enough” features of web pages and the like, alongside the equivalent feature, once some more focus has been given to the details of the design, and asks the viewer which one is better, and why. There are some very clever juxtapositions used to demonstrate that allowing time to work on the aesthetics of an interface is really worthwhile. Being forced to make these direct comparisons brings up some interesting questions.

Maybe within the University, we aren’t trying to sell products as such, but we are often trying to gain user confidence and acceptance, provide improved services, attract a particular target audience, and so on. Our own experiences of websites, etc tell us that the design features do make a big difference.

Often, though, we might be working on a project where the budget is really tight… or non-existent… and the “design bit” of the project is undervalued. Those of us involved in design and UX work should try to maintain a strong voice, since good design and well-crafted aesthetics do have a direct impact on the value of the end product.

On a similar vein, you might be interested in a talk entitled “The Four Pleasures – Designing for Inclusive Emotional Engagement“, part of the Engineering Deign Centre series. It takes place on Wednesday, April 29th, 16h30 until 17h30, at the Engineering Department.

The most effective products and services are those that are not only useful and usable, but which also connect with users at an emotional level.

{ Pat Jordan – design, marketing and brand strategist }

As I think Stephen Anderson suggests, we designers are in a position to create that connection at the “emotional level”.


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2 Responses

  1. Sarah says:

    Very good. I’d like to recommend this presentation by Andrew Hinton, Linkosophy ( it’s the presentation he gave at the IA Summit in 2008, AND it’s got his notes with it. I’ve read it(sometimes just looked at the slides)many times and always seem to find something new and/or different to think about. He hosted a workshop this year called Beyond Findability ( and although I’ve only just had a quick look at it, seems equally interesting – from my librarian point of view anyway.

  2. […] the Details (reprise) You might remember that I wrote something a little while ago about spending time on the details of your design, and trying to make sure that […]

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