Design vs. Standardisation

The shrinking of the planet and expansion of the virtual world to a degree where users can live a second or third life by a few simple mouse clicks, businesses can boom and collapse in a span of time that was previously unimaginable, new professions have arisen, remote access has taken communication to new heights, revolutions are triggered, governments are overthrown, society has a new definition – this is the magic of the world wide web.

Defined as:

A network of networks that consists of millions of private, public, academic, business, and government networks, of local to global scope, that are linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless and optical networking technologies.

The internet age gave practitioners of design a new playground – where ideas could take a digital shape, colour schemes changed from CMYK to hexadecimal, there was room for motion, music and interaction. Designers, who previously relied on printing firms to bring their concepts to life, could surpass that; for the internet allowed them to publish information with some basic knowledge of programming languages. Websites became ‘fancy’, viral campaigns were animated, a whole new world of iconography unveiled itself and more- but is this good enough?

Approximately 7 billion humans inhabit the planet, of which almost 2 billion (and increasing) people are connected to the internet, this further opens the door to a variation of computer systems/devices used, individual limitations, user preferences, ease in accessibility and the big issue of ‘speed’. Users want information exchange to be fast, faster than ever before.

How can design cater to such a diverse audience, and the plethora of preferences and requirements? The solution is standardisation. Designers may argue that this limits their creative freedom, but for any given problem – the first step in creating a solution is identifying the audience, and continuing the solution seeking progress with the target audience as a prime consideration.

Maybe the challenge is to be creative within the premises of the basic guidelines of standardisation. Standardisation itself is changing, and with it the premises within which sit the established guidelines. Can designers not identify a new playground whilst conforming to the standards?

- Manjul Rathee

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