This morning, something that Airbnb's Joe Gebbia said in a recent Co-Design article caught our eye. He was talking with other influential product designers about the design challenges of today. He said this decade was:
About using the Internet to enable real-world interactions. It's leveraging this digital life to make our analog lives more connected. It's not using Facebook to spy on an old friend, but to meet them in person.
Facebook Director of Product Design Margaret Stewart riffed off of Joe's comment during the same conversation, saying, "Mobile is the bridge into your real life."
Mobile is a Two-Way Street
As much as mobile and the Web connects us, bind us, even in the deepest rural areas of China, it isn't a one-way street for designers. It goes both ways. If this decade is about real world interactions, as Joe puts it, then we can't think of it as just solely as mere consumption. Rather we have to consider how those interactions are facilitated. In other words, how we build the bridge.
And we can bring a bit of the real world into that design of our products. Take for instance, Pinterest. The offset grid has a very physical element to it, resembling the old school physical pinboards we all probably had hanging in our homes at one point or another. Sahil Lavingia, who was one of the chief architects of the site, told us they took some real-world inspiration from scrapbooks and pinboards. As he said:
It's kinda what people do anyway. I think the most of the best products, like Jack Dorsey says all the time, technology should use whatever human things we're used to.
Which is why everything Sahil builds has a physical element to it.
The real world can inspire us. It can help us improve our designs so that we can build better and stronger bridges that link us. More than that, it can also recall us to the elements of the physical world that we're so accustomed to using, making our mobile devices more of a two-way street rather than a one-way trip.