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Design is Life or Death

Hand crafted by Michael Boeke on June 13, 2012

As I was out running the other day, I saw a sandwich board propped up in the middle of the road that read “Car Wash for Food Pantry”. The message was written in large, outlined, bubble letters, and I squinted to read it from just a couple of car-lengths away.

My design instinct immediately kicked in, as I determined that none of the cars on the road could read this sign in time to make a decision about whether to stop at the car wash. It was obvious that they should fill in the bubble letters, and make them much darker. I next realized that this bad design decision was probably impacting how much money they would raise, and given the cause, it might mean that some family would go hungry.

Design is not about making something look good. Design drives behavior - it can secure an advantage for your business or put food in the mouth of a hungry child. The design of the world around us shapes the events of our lives, and can even make the difference between life or death.

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Michael Boeke is a designer, product guy, and startup veteran, who currently designs and manages products at online payments company Braintree.