It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.
— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
A well-designed application is a joy to use. It essentially becomes a “flow” experience. Nothing blocks your way, everything is where you anticipated it would be, and you achieve your goal seemingly without effort.
The technology fades into the background, and you become absorbed by the task at hand. You flow easily to the next thing without even really noticing. You answer some email, schedule a task, watch a video, or chuckle at the latest Grumpy Cat meme. (Oh look — George Takei posted something witty again on Facebook!)
How did the designer construct the application so you could have that experience? What did they need to know about your goals as a user, about human perception and behaviour, and about technology that helped you get where you needed to go? What was inspiring to them that enabled you to see “with your heart” and make the essential disappear?
That’s what this site is all about discovering. It’s a place where FileMaker developers can learn more about fundamental design principles, share ideas and inspiration, and ultimately become better at delivering a “flow” experience with the applications we develop for clients.
Many of us are intimidated by the term “design.” We think we aren’t “creative,” and we associate creativity with “art.” But while design can contain some artistic, creative elements, art and design aren’t the same thing.
Design is about using your skills to solve a problem effectively. It’s concrete and definable, if complex. Design skills are things you can learn, just like you learned about tables and fields, creating relationships, or writing scripts and calculations, when you first started working with FileMaker. Start small, pick one or two things to focus on, and build from there.
I’m Alexis Allen, a certified FileMaker developer based in Toronto, Canada, and the principal at Hyperspace Data Solutions, Inc.
I’ve always loved making things. Over the years I’ve had many creative hobbies, and worked for a number of advertising and design firms. I always felt that I wasn’t really a designer and everyone knew more about being one than me (after all, the graphic designers went to design school, while I went to music school and ended up a computer geek!).
Until I discovered that I could actually learn a lot about design from simply observing, reading, and asking questions. I took courses in desktop publishing and fine art. And I realized that while I’m not exactly a graphic designer, I use my design skills to make FileMaker applications every day.
I saw that beautifully designed applications seem easier to use than ones that lack form and structure. So I committed to learning more about what makes an effective application, and have been on the road of discovery ever since.
I hope you’ll return to learn more about designing FileMaker!
If you have something to contribute, I’d love to hear from you. Submission guidelines are here.