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A Whole New Mind: Design

An eye for design is a skill that one will need to have if they wish to thrive in the R-directed economy. The ability to design is something that can’t be automated and is difficult to outsource.

How does design effect lawyers? Think back to the 2000 presidential election when the decision went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States. For 36 days, Gore and Bush fought over counting little rectangle ballots that weren’t completely punched out. That’s right. The infamous chads. Thousands of votes from Palm Beach county Florida- a heavily Democratic enclave populated by elderly Jewish people- were invalidated because they voted for both Al Gore and George Bush. Why on earth would someone vote for two presidential candidates? The answer: bad design. Come to find out, the design of the butterfly ballot confused the elderly folk, so they ended up voting twice. So we have an instance of bad design leading a case to the highest court of the land.

Many products liability cases turn on the faulty design of a product. Sure, you’ll hire experts to help pin point the exact flaws, but having a general knowledge of design can help you as you develop a case.

Lawyers should consider design when they’re writing up contracts or legal forms. Does the layout make reading the contract easy or does it cause confusion?

Legal Andrew has suggested law firms get their own blog. While you can hire a site designer to create it for you, it would be helpful for an attorney to have some sense of design so they can give feedback on how they want the site to look.

So, how can you develop your sense of design? Pink suggests the following:

1. Keep a Design Notebook– when you see a great design in a graphic or a product, make note of. Describe it. Write what you like about it. Also, note design features you don’t like.

2. Read Design Magazines– Pink suggests Dwell, O Magazine, Print, and Real Simple. Another one I found the other day was Communication Arts. Also, check the computer section in the magazine rack. There are several web design mags.

3. Channel Your Annoyance– sit down with a household item that you think is ugly or is poorly designed. Sketch out how you would improve it.