Dehumanization

In web design, the look of the interface is important, but what and how that interface teaches us to think can be more subtle than we realize. If we spend fifteen minutes a day in front of some beautiful icons and single words like "send", "download", "follow", it probably wouldn't matter much. But as soon as we decide to spend our whole day in front of the same screen, the situation changes. We may start to think with single words too, being unable to form a complete sentence or to keep a meaningful conversation. In other words, interfaces can be a powerful way of rewiring the brain and as web designers, we still underestimate the effect this has on the human psyche. Every word can trigger an emotional response and direct people's thoughts in a certain direction. Such preconditioning seems to be used quite well by corporations who want us to think in a certain way. But when we agree to use a robotic language on a daily basis, we neglect what makes us human and thus risk to lose some of our intelligence. Moreover, there is the danger to transfer this lingo in our conversational speech, which will make us sound less natural and trustworthy.

We tend to think that simple and elegant interfaces are always better without questioning whether this minimalism makes them look as if created from the hands of a precise robot. While screen elements can be nicely aligned, spaced out and ordered, something may still be missing when there is no attempt for a human connection within the existing filler space. Such missing artifacts can make an otherwise elegant site look almost unreal. By using pre-generated templates, designers declare that they value the speed of the machine more than their own approach, thus dehumanizing themselves first and then setting an example that will further touch the potential users of the website and dehumanize them as well. Achieving profitability shouldn't be at the expense of hindering the individual. Making people think like machines means that it becomes increasingly easier to imprison their thoughts, even by what is supposed to be design. We should be aware of this possibility and seek to prevent it from occurring by thinking of our websites as part of the larger ecosystem and its competing powers.

An element of imperfection makes the design more human, which is more likely to lead to better engagement when most people can easily sense vulnerability. It's better to keep our interfaces simple only when we don't deprive them of our human touch.

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