design is communication

Design is Communication

“True interactivity is not about clicking on icons or downloading files, it’s about encouraging communication.” – Edwin Schlossberg

An interactive design needs to be communicative. It should communicate with the user in a way that the user understands it fully while working on it.

What is effective communication? Effective communication is communication between two or more persons with the purpose of delivering, receiving, and understanding the message successfully.

How does a design communicate to its users? Just like a writer or a speaker chooses their words to communicate a message clearly, good designers choose the right visual elements to communicate a message to their users. These visual elements include design layout, experience, and feedback.

Let’s have a closer look at how design can communicate effectively to its users.

Think about communication for a while. What makes communication effective?  

  • Knowing your audience
  • Understanding the need
  • Learn to listen
  • Manage passive communication
  • Consider non-verbal image

Let’s try to map this guideline to the design and learn how to create an interactive design that can clearly communicate its purpose to its users.

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Knowing your audience

You cannot communicate effectively if you don’t know your audience. Similarly, the design cannot be created without knowing its users. The first step in the design process is to identify your users and know their level of understanding.

This information will help you to create a design that can effectively communicate with your users as per their specs and characteristics.

Understanding the need

To make communication effective, first, you should know the need for communication. What is the problem that you are going to address in your talk?

The design can communicate effectively only if it knows the needs of its users. Design is a solution to the problems of its users. A good solution can only be provided when you understand the problem clearly.

Learn to listen

Communication is not just to speak or convey your message. Listening to the users and trying to understand what they want is a key element of communication.

The design should listen to its users by involving them in the design creation process and getting their feedback during each stage. Then based on the feedback, the design should improve itself. Remember, if your design is not communicating its purpose to your user, then it is not a usable design.

Manage passive communication

Even if the user is not interacting with the design, its layout, colors, fonts, labels, and icons can tell them a story that they may like or not. When the user opens a design, it takes them just 5 seconds to decide whether to stay there or not. The visual clues presented by the design should attract its users to stay with it.

Consider non-verbal image

The design communication is not limited to the visual messages and notifications that are displayed when a user interacts with the design. Everything presented visually on an interface is a communication towards its users.

Take care of building blocks of visual design like text, images, styles, labels, titles, icons, colors, audio, videos, hierarchy, whitespace, etc.

“How well we communicate is determined not by how well we say things, but how well we are understood.” –Andrew Grove


Design is communication. While communicating, we always want to be clearly understood by our audience. Similarly, while creating the design, choose your visual elements carefully as they are speaking to your users. Get continuous feedback from your users to make your communication more effective.

The effects of bad communication on a relationship can destroy the relationship itself. And as a good designer, you will never want to destroy your relationship with your users :).

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