Why is time a key consideration in design?


One of the forgotten tenets of good design is time.

I think that is why I enjoy designing so much is that when I think about things I think without time. However, time is one of the main sculptors of feasible output.

Check out some thought experiments on time and graphic design.


A time based activity to get to better design:

My favorite and perennial reference is to play the 5, 3, 1 game.

First, take 2 pieces of paper, fold it into 8 pieces, or create a grid of 8 squares 4 times.

Then, think about what you want to do. Set a direction.

Get a timer, and go. Take 5 minutes to draw the process, or journey of what will happen in your design. Use one square per step. Draw with as much detail as needed, not possible.

When times up, take one minute, review.

Now do it with 3 minutes.

See how the unnecessary things start to rub off?

Again with 1 minute.

Bonus Round, 30 seconds.


Designing classically or with “good design”.

Buckle up, do your homework first. Review not just hot and trendy designers but know the fundamentals behind form and usability. For reference I would check out the Norman Neilsen group and do some prep work on form.

What really makes something timeless?

Not just craft.

Not just clean.

Not just usability.


There must be some originality in a timeless design. It can only be dug out through research and through repetition.

Commit to making an everyday object into something usable but new.

Draw 100 sketches. Start with 50 from things that you admire that other people have done, and then the next 50 should be redraws of the same thing.

Choose 5. Prototype them and test them by finding use cases for them.

Then build one.

Then test it. Build it with cardboard, make it digitally, have a prototype made.

Along the way, every flaw will come out through prototyping or just putting figure to paper. The process of craft should grind off the unnecessary. The process of research should help define it better and better.

At last.

An original.


Things can either be good, fast, or cheap.

You can only have 2.

Decide what you want to your project to have.

An expensive elaborate chair?


A paper plate?

Fast, cheap.

Review objects in your everyday life that you use more than 2 times per day. What characteristics do they have? Are they cheap because the process is bountiful? The materials inexpensive? Are they good because they are designed well? What about them do you like? Sketch them and label everything.

When you begin to create things, choose to make things cheap and fast over over good. Make mistakes and fail.

Over time, you can get around that and start to make things fast and good.

And then good and cheap; because you’ve already put in the work needed to make them fast.

Have fun.