“Oh, I don’t like that.” ...Before even realizing it, the phrase had fallen from my lips.
The ensuing silence from my coworkers gave me time to comprehend my error. I had just done the one thing design clients do that frustrates designers so much. I had just passed judgement on a design element based simply on an aversion to change.
This unfortunate scenario took place on the day that Apple announced iOS7. My workmates and I were watching the press conference and we had reached the point where Apple revealed a few preview shots of the new interface. My brash comment was in reference to the newly redesigned reception indicator graphic — or, whatever it’s called. It had been changed — from 5 bars that gradually increase in height — to 5 circles.
Looking back, I realize that the simplification of this element makes complete sense. Everything about the interface of iOS7 is simplified compared to previous versions of the operating system. Therefore, it’s only logical that the reception indicator graphic would be simplified as well.
Truly, there’s nothing wrong with the new graphic. Its function as a reception indicator is upheld quite well — all circles are full at max reception and they gradually become empty at less-than-max reception. Intuitive, right? Also, the graphic’s refined appearance perfectly melds with the sleek, new interface of iOS7.
So, if that’s the case, why did I have such a strong reaction against the reinvented graphic in the first place? Well, at the time, it was my own personal preference to favor the familiar bar graphic over the new circle graphic. And this preference had its foundation in the distaste for change that comes seemingly pre-programmed into every human brain. In short, the graphic was different and, because of that, I didn’t like it.
When dissected in the preceding way, this reason is ridiculous and unfounded. But, as humans, we let fear of change be reason enough for dislike much more often than we realize.
Designers are trained to overcome this limiting character trait. After all, one of the main objectives of the design profession is to innovate. But, natural instincts are powerful and, for however brief a time, I allowed this ingrained trait to overcome my design expertise.
After recognizing the misguided reason for my dislike of the new circle graphic, it dawned on me: If pushing passed human-kind’s innate distaste for change isn’t always easy and immediate for me, a designer who’s been trained to do just that, this task could conceivably be quite difficult for those without similar training. ...so that’s, you know, most clients.
From this point forward, I'll try to be a bit more patient and understanding when it seems that the only reason for a client's distaste for a design is simple aversion to change. Instead of frustration, I'll do my best to take a step back and help them push past their fear.