Design Language Is Not Important, If You Want To Design Like An Artist
Almost everyone agrees the importance of having a consistent and unified experience across platforms, yet many services have terrible cross-platform experience consistency. The effort to create one is not as easy as saying “Let’s create a consistent experience.” Everyone was excited in the beginning, but when it comes to the painful part (defining details like typography, metrics, or colors), then you realize its challenges, and some people find the challenges are troublesome. We tend to be short-sighted in looking at the advantages of doing certain things. Consistent and unified design will not only give a better experience to the users, it will also give a stronger brand perception and a lot of advantages to the internal team. This consistent and unified design usually comes in something called the design language.
An example of the design language benefit, when designing a new screen for your mobile app, you don’t need to recreate a visual design for that screen. Wireframe will do, and the visual designer only needs to annotate the wireframe with reference to the design language. Try search for ‘Design Language’, you’ll find some good examples like Google Material Design or IBM Design Language.
In Viki, we’ve started the initiative to create Viki Design Language. Viki is on web, iOS, Android, Kindle, Google TV, Samsung TV, chromecast, and XBOX 360. Design Language is not important, if you want to design like an artist, painting for his own pleasure without worrying about how people would enjoy his work and using it in their daily lives to achieve certain goals. For Viki, with its multiple platforms support, good design language has never been crucial than ever before.
You might feel discouraged if you look at Google Material Design or IBM Design Language, thinking that it’s a big thing, and you’ll never have time to create such guide. Well, like Lao Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles, begins with one step.” My first step in Viki was aiming for colors, typography, and buttons/links. If it’s too much for you, start with only colors. Small step is better than no step at all.