A Change in Perspective Can Reveal Simplicity

I recently ran across a diagram that showed the “orbit” of the planet Venus around the Earth. Sure, we all know that the planets go around the Sun, but for thousands of pre-Galileo years, the Earth was the center. It’s very simple to draw, explain, and show the orbit of the planets around the Sun, and we all understand the concept of heliocentricity without a problem. It’s simple, The Earth goes around the Sun, the planets go around the Sun, we’ve got it.

However, if you try to describe, or draw the orbit of the planets from a geocentric perspective, it can be quite difficult. There is a pattern, it does repeat, and it actually creates a nice design, but it is very complex to illustrate and explain.

So it goes with design, sometimes you need to change your perspective in order to visualize the solution in its most simple form. Sometimes you need to find ways to help your users change their perspective so that they can see the problem from your perspective. Sometimes your users are already visualizing the problem from the simplest perspective, and you change it, or redesign it to work from your perspective.

As designers it’s our job to visualize things from different perspectives, hunting down the simplest, and most elegant solution, and bringing that to our users.

posted by John Dilworth on Thursday, Aug 31, 2006
tagged with design, simplicity