WDCD14 is only three days away. We almost can’t wait. But here we look back first at last week’s The Next Web Conference in Amsterdam. The conference for the international tech community paid attention to design as well.

By Inge Keizer

‘Design is solving bigger problems,’ architect and product designer Evan Sharp said last week at The Next Web Conference in Amsterdam. Sharp is co-founder of digital pinboard Pinterest. Sharp believes that digital experts should primary focus on design and less on technology. When making apps or platforms interaction design (and as I believe all design) is human communication.

The interesting thing about Pinterest is that it is basically a search engine. In this case a visual one. The interface offers visitors a range of possibilities, without ranking, inviting people to discover things they didn’t know about before. According to Sharp online discovery is a design process. And this kind of discovery, or browsing, isn’t new. Look at libraries, museums or magazines. Everywhere design is used to visualize the options. Making it easier to make choices.

Power to the people

During the conference several speakers talked about ‘Power to the people’. In the digital world more and more start-ups are based on this principle. One of the examples is Duolingo. Co-founder Luis von Ahn stated that in the current world of people wanting to share, give, swap and contribute, learning a language can be a shared experience. Using a very visual interface, in combination with a stimulating reward system (gamification), people tend to learn a language playfully. Duolingo’s design makes it possible to help each other and learn together at the same time (video here).

James McQuivey, vice-president and principal analyst at Forrester Research added to this: ‘Companies need to focus on the product experience: the relationship their products have with the users.’

Or as Brian Solis, principal analyst at Altimeter Group, said: ‘If it isn’t broken, break it. Stand up against what exists today, question why it still functions, and come with a total new approach which will help the current and future society.’ That is exactly What Design Can Do.

Inge Keizer is partner at design agency Yabber and associated director at Yard Internet

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