Dmitry Novikov, a product designer at MacPaw, provides design services for all of the company’s products. His portfolio includes apps used by many macOS users such as CleanMyMac, Gemini, and Photolemur. Dmitry pays considerable attention to sound and native animation and believes that interface design is the new industrial design.
In this interview, Dmitry shares where he finds references when it comes to visualizing ideas and explains how he came up with the interface design idea for CleanMyMac X, for which MacPaw got the iF Design Award.
Design thinking is the foundation of product design. Does one need to follow the method at every stage?
The profession of a Product Designer is a relatively young one, so there are no clear dogmas. You are limited by time, the guidelines of the operating system (sometimes) and the capabilities of your team. If you are a seasoned designer, do what you’d like to do and in any order you wish. The main thing is that everything has to be easy and comfortable.
Dmitry Novikov / Dribbble
In product design, how important is it to always keep your target audience in mind?
Design is made with everyone in mind and you never know for sure who and when will use your product specifically. Always consider the extremes that may occur.
For example – you design a knife. It is clear that it shouldn’t get into the hands of a child but what if it does? What if your software is in the hands of a blind person? What if your software is running on a device that is connected to the speakers that are set to the maximum volume? Anything can happen. Design should be for everyone, while sales should be targeted.
When can a designer’s work on a product be considered complete?
It depends on the definition of ‘done’. To determine it, write down your expectations. What would you like to achieve both functionally and emotionally? If design meets these expectations, it’s time to stop.
Product design is heavily about solutions that help businesses grow, isn’t it?
Product design (as well as industrial design or architecture) is primarily about the end user.
If the product is good and solves the problem, it brings in the money. Money is a measure of gratitude for your product. Everything that brings a lot of money is necessary for people. Or people were told that they really need this product. However, this is more about marketing.
Dmitry Novikov / Dribbble
When it comes to visualizing ideas, where do you draw inspiration?
Travel, music, movies, clothes, cars, magazines, showrooms, hotels, furniture, houses, sculptures, and games.
Inspiration as such does not exist. We reflect on what we once saw. It is important to have many sources of inspiration, ask questions “why so?”, and get to the bottom of the matter.
Also, developing your eye for design helps a lot. For example, the reference for CleanMyMac 3 background I found on the Rolls-Royce picture that I took once. The shape of the buttons in CleanMyMac X were inspired by Scandinavian furniture. It made me realize that natural forms should not be mathematically even.
Which design professionals do you admire the most?
- Cecilie Manz, for her natural taste and authenticity.
- Bjarke Ingels, for his desire to do his own business and enjoy it.
- Ilya Birman, for his ability to share his knowledge.
- Hideo Kojima, for being a genius!
- Virgil Abloh, for his ability to rethink the ordinary.
- Cliff Bleszinski, for his rebellious spirit.
How do XR technology influence design today?
XR technology is just a tool that helps during the implementation stage. Design is created in your mind. Technology can influence design only if the design is made for technology.
Why are sound and native animation important in applications?
Our perception of the world is not limited to the visual part only. Interface design is the new industrial design. Any product in this sphere should have texture, emotion, and natural behavior.
Animations should be smooth because we are smooth ourselves. The sound should be in the places where we expect and be exactly how we expect to hear it. Games and movies have sound. So why shouldn’t software have it as well?
The interface design of CleanMyMac X, for which you recently got the iF Design Award, features major trends of 2020 – gradients, three-dimensionality, and neon colors. Do you personally follow design trends?
I don’t. I would rather say that I am trying to predict in which direction the “wind will blow”, mostly according to the secondary references such as fashion design or upcoming technology. The fact is that CleanMyMac X was drawn a year and a half before the release of the final product, at that time, this trend did not exist.
The appearance of AMOLED screens provokes the appearance of acid tones. Flexible screens and rounded phone shapes imply strong curves in interface design.
If you feel that everyone is tired and bored of flat design, change it!
Dmitry Novikov / Dribbble
You wrote once that design must withstand the hands of time. In other words, it shouldn’t be clear for a user when the product was developed: yesterday or 30 years ago. Can this rule be applied to product design?
This rule is important to apply for product design, as a product is by far not the most flexible thing! Often, a redesign might take from several months to several years, so it is extremely important to create a design that would remain relevant two years before and three years after its release.
Need more inspiration? Read dozens of insightful interviews with illustrators, photographers, and designers here.
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