Here, Everywhere and Nowhere

Do the end-users have a presence in the design process? Being the ultimate client, what impact do the end-users have on the design?

It is a peculiar notion the end-users of the design will mostly remain unknown to the designers. They are anonymous and their appearances concealed. The knowledge of where, when, and how the end-users receive the design is often not at the designers’ disposal. Although we, the designers, may observe several individuals interact with the design—mostly through marketing testing on the target groups—, but to witness them all simultaneously to have a survey or a clear picture, is unthinkable. The existence of the end-users is without a doubt; they may come in the tens, hundreds, or tens of thousands and in different ages and genders. Who they are is defined by the nature of the project; studies may at times be compiled on their behaviors and likings. How the end-users are to react and interact with the design is the primary concern of those involved in the creation process.

The relationship a designer has with the end-users is, in general, a one-way relationship. The conception of the end-users is omnipresent, regardless of the fact their physical presence in the design process is mostly absent. For every project, we are to draw up in our mind hypothetical end-users base on the general characteristics of the target group. These hypothetical end-users are to perform their presence in our subconscious, over where they are to be the devil’s advocate to our design decisions through out the process.

Besides that the end-users do not make the decisions, they are presented with the design in its final completion. There are, however, ways of involving the end-users to participate in or to witness the presence of a design process. Our office had attempted in achieving this with the design of a poetry booklet. For the design to be in its completion, a circular silhouette representing the ‘sun’ had yet to make its physical mark on the half title page (the first page). This was to be done in several ways. The end-users could either lift the cover slightly to let in sunlight through the circular die-cut on the cover, or by rubbing with the finger against the circular die-cut hole; the grease darkens the ink and forms the missing silhouette. Naturally, there will be end-users who either overlook or are insensitive to this design element. When there is no participation from the end-users, the circular silhouette of the ‘sun’ can be conceived by another factor: time. Over time, the chemical reaction of being exposed to sunlight will result in bleach of the ink on paper, thus, the presence of sunlight leaving behind its mark to complete the design.

Chin-Lien Chen , Chris Vermaas