Design is everywhere

Everywhere I look, I see design. Design is just decisions, after all. The height of your ceiling, the shape of your shoes, the sound of your doorbell, the way the road bends around natural obstacles; every single thing around you was decided by human beings in the past. Sometimes, that decision may have roots hundreds or thousands of years in the past.

Even things like trees, rivers, and lakes, most of earth has been curated by decisions over millennia. When you are next in an airplane, look out of the window. Pick out a river that you can see and follow the river for a few minutes. You will almost certainly see a man-made dam. Humankind has shaped the earth in every conceivable way.

Designer Portfolios

It has been a real adventure watching technology change in the last half century. One fascinating evolution was the designer portfolio. At first, portfolios were literally weird suitcase looking things with all of your artwork in them.

Imagine walking around with this thing

Then in the late nineties and early 2000s, you could email your work to someone. It was actually complicated to know what format to send. The solution was the PDF by Adobe which had been out since 1993. Because of the PDF format, the portfolio was converted into a long scrolling page.

When WYSIWYG website editors were introduced in the early 2000s, all of the design world just straight converted their PDFs into long scrolling pages. Today, those pages are long gone, but the legacy of super long scrolling case studies remains.

Rather than designing new experiences and experimenting with information display, designers are oblivious to why portfolios look that way, and just perpetuate the standard despite obvious shortcomings.

QWERTY Keyboards

Ever think about why the keyboard is designed the way it is? The original typewriters had a problem where the arms would get stuck of you typed too quickly.

So the original designers of the device came up with a layout that slowed down typing. The QWERTY keyboard is purposefully the worst possible layout.

Fun fact: there is an easter egg in the QWERTY layout. In the top row, you can spell TYPEWRITER. Dumb, but on purpose.

So despite decades, we still use the worst possible layout. A better layout is called Dvorak. It makes it much easier to type. See below.


One thing I try to do is see the designs all around us. Some of them great, some terrible, most just are there. This can be a little hazardous when I am driving, but there is just so much to see. As a designer, you should be looking at everything and learning.

Additionally, when you are interviewing for a job or doing your daily work routine, think about all of the decisions and structures that make up your daily routine. Maybe you can imagine a better way of doing it.

I really wish there was more tolerance for change. Designs are not usually great at first and we tend to keep them for far too long. Anyway, start with the basics, at least just look at designs and learn about them.


One response to “Design is everywhere”

  1. The Hebrew keyboard story is even weirder. The letter order was originally came from Yiddish keyboards. So the most used Yiddish letters are the most accessible ones. Unfortunately, in Hebrew, those letters are pretty rare. It’s mainly noticeable in the Kof ק and A’ain ע letters

Whatya think?