Is design a science or an art? I reckon that, as far as the web is concerned, it’s a bit of both. 

I searched on Google for an answer to the question and while I didn’t quite find one, I did spot a rather lovely Venn diagram created by The Imaginary Foundation. Try replacing the word ‘wonder’ with ‘design’, and we’re pretty much there…

30 user experience quotes to warm your soul

Designing a wonderful user experience is a key part of trying to create an amazing customer experience, which is much broader, anchored as it is in products, service, process, fulfilment and so on. This is something we’re all – presumably – trying to do.

I’m not a big fan of inspirational quotes, much less those awful posters, but sometimes a smart soundbite or pithy observation can help us to spot the wood from the trees. As such I’ve compiled a bunch of my favourite quotes relating to the user experience and design. Hat tip to this thread on Quora and


“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” - Hans Hofmann

“The architect should strive continually to simplify; the ensemble of the rooms should then be carefully considered that comfort and utility may go hand in hand with beauty.” - Frank Lloyd Wright

“Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.” - Leonardo da Vinci

“If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.” - Albert Einstein

"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“Making the simple complicated is commonplace. Making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity.” - Charles Mingus

“Simple is hard. Easy is harder. Invisible is hardest.” - Jean-Louis Gassée

“It's simple, until you make it complicated.” - Jason Fried

“Don't make me think.” - Steve Krug

"One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity." - Bruce Lee


“To design is to communicate clearly by whatever means you can control or master.” - Milton Glaser

"People react positively when things are clear and understandable." - Dieter Rams

"The main goal is not to complicate the already difficult life of the consumer." - Raymond Loewy

“Clutter is a failure of design, not an attribute of information.” - Edward Tufte

"Design needs to be plugged into human behaviour. Design dissolves in behaviour." - Naoto Fukasawa

“The only intuitive interface is the nipple. After that it's all learned.” - Bruce Ediger

"As far as the customer is concerned, the interface is the product." - Jef Raskin

"What makes people passionate, pure and simple, is great experiences. If they have great experience with your product and they have great experiences with your service, they’re going to be passionate about your brand, they’re going to be committed to it. That’s how you build that kind of commitment." – Jesse James Garrett

"When we have clients who are thinking about Flash splash pages, we tell them to go to their local supermarket and bring a mime with them. Have the mime stand in front of the supermarket, and, as each customer tries to enter, do a little show that lasts two minutes, welcoming them to the supermarket and trying to explain the bread is on aisle six and milk is on sale today. Then stand back and count how many people watch the mime, how many people get past the mime as quickly as possible, and how many people punch the mime out. That should give you a good idea as to how well their splash page will be received." - Jared Spool

“Design must seduce, shape, and more importantly, evoke an emotional response.” - April Greiman


“White space is to be regarded as an active element, not a passive background.” - Jan Tschichold

"A lot of what we are doing is getting design out of the way." - Jonathan Ive

"Don't make something unless it's both necessary and useful. But if it is both necessary and useful, don't hesitate to make it beautiful." - Josh Porter

"It’s not enough that we build products that function, that are understandable and usable, we also need to build products that bring joy and excitement, pleasure and fun, and yes, beauty to people’s lives." – Don Norman

"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools." – Douglas Adams

"The details are not the details. They make the design" - Charles Eames

“It’s art if can’t be explained. It’s fashion if no one asks for an explanation. It’s design if it doesn’t need explanation.” - Wouter Stokkel

“Good design keeps the user happy, the manufacturer in the black and the aesthete unoffended.” - Raymond Loewy

“Designers shooting for usable is like a chef shooting for edible.” - Aarron Walter

“In music, silence is more important than sound.” - Miles Davis

Can you suggest any others? 

[Image credit: The Imaginary Foundation]

Chris Lake

Published 22 June, 2011 by Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (9)

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Adam Hart

Adam Hart, Flash & Motion Designer at The Engine Group

Great article, many useful quotes here. I've just Tweeted: "More so than ever, it seems marketing and advertising is going back to the 'human connection', in order to invoke response." Inspired by a quote from film director James Cameron, who highlighted the importance of the human connection when telling stories.

about 7 years ago



I love those quote from Simplify. People are getting complicated, we need something simple

about 7 years ago


Jonathan Shariat

If I asked people what they wanted, they would have said 'Faster Horses". -Henry Ford

You can use an eraser on the drafting table or a sledge hammer on the construction site. - Frank Lloyd Wright

about 7 years ago


Depesh Mandalia, CEO & Founder at SM Commerce

"Just because you can, doesn't mean you should" - Depesh Mandalia ;-)

about 7 years ago


James Robertson, Web Marketing Manager at

User experience design should always be undertaken by an expert online marketer; the IT department will always know how, but never why....

about 7 years ago


Meadhbh Hamrick

great collection, but i would probably put design between art and engineering, with engineering being the practical application of science. and yes, i know, i'm being all sorts of a pedant.

and another one of my favorite raskin quotes: "users do not care about what is inside the box, as long as the box does what they need done."

about 7 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

@Meadhbh, I think you could be right! However I think 'science' perhaps covers human pscyhology / behaviour in a way that engineering doesn't... ; )

about 7 years ago


Craig Sullivan, Customer Experience Manager at Belron International

Some wonderful examples here:

“Simple design, intense content.”
—Edward Tufte, 2004

It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them "
Steve Jobs, 1998

“The only thing more expensive than writing software is writing bad software.” – Allan Cooper

“The letter I have written today is longer than usual because I lacked the time to make it shorter”
- Blaise Pascal

You can use an eraser on the drafting table or a sledge hammer on the construction site.
- Frank Lloyd Wright

And this one feels like someone closer to home:

"He thinks and thinks about what a product should be and then worries it into existence." Stephen Bayley on Jonathan Ive

about 7 years ago


Michael Davis, Performance Engineer at

Great design is solitude and a tree to pee on, and the next best thing might be wise to simulate that concept.

almost 2 years ago

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