Architecture and design

Architecture and design is part of our very existence, from the wonderful natural design of nature itself, from which we draw so much inspiration for our own design ideas. We are all designers in some small way, as even the way we dress or the way we decorate our homes all has design at its heart.

When I was mulling over this post about design and how we all, are designers at some level, I remembered the song by the Manic Street Preachers. In case you have not heard of them, they are Welsh Rock band that have been producing music for many years. They had a song, which from recollection was called “A Design for Life” which sang about having a design to make your life function in a better way. So design is not always about physical objects, it is the very thing of being alive and designing a lifestyle to go along with the more practical elements of normal design or architecture.

For instance if someone was of a “Bohemian Nature” they would be looking for architecture and design that suited their lifestyle. They would want to live in the “happening” part of town, in a building that reflected their nature, their dress and they very existence.

I have a friend, who is as far from being “Bohemian” as you can get, he is a Financial Adviser. However like everyone else, he has “designed” his life to fit with his own personality, we can’t all be far out dudes! Anyway he asked me for some advice on designing a new website for his life insurance company Asurie I am no expert on building websites, but I like to think I know something about design. Now when you are designing something, you need to keep your own personal tastes under control to a certain degree. You need to think of the audience you are designing for, of course part of your own personality will still be there in any design projects you do, as we can’t help who we are. However the design should be about enhancing the users experience not your own.

My friend wanted a functional but elegant site that was pleasing on the eye and more importantly designed to make the user take action. With that remit in mind I put myself in the shoes of the user, in this case people looking for life insurance quotes. Before even thinking of designing a site layout, I did some research into the users of on line insurance websites, as well as looking at the competing sites.

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What I found was interesting, the research seemed to indicate that people searching for life insurance quotes on line, wanted quick responses, but also the ability to search for more information if they wanted. They wanted easy to navigate sites (no surprise there) and they wanted a site that was easy to read. There is nothing worse than finding a website with red text on a black background!

Research done, I did a mock-up of the website using some simple graphic tools. My friend was delighted with the mock up, as it was clean and functional as he had wanted. I used a simple design, but with pleasing colour arrangements and a quote form on every page, with a strong call to action. I also included a Blog page for my friend to provide useful information for users (as per research) all in he was very happy and he was able to pass the design to his web guy, who had the site up in no time. If you want to see how the life insurance quote site turned out check it out here. I think it helps users get to where they want to be, which in this instance are quotes for life insurance.

So even though I know nothing about life insurance, I could still tap into peoples design preferences, by doing some research and finding out their personal design preferences. A design for life indeed.

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I love to ride a bike every now and then. Enjoy coffee, whisky and red wine.

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