Designing for Happiness

When I started my design career one of my main goals was to create things that have real emotional impact. I most appreciate design that makes me stop and look, or compels me to interact on a deeper level. At its core, design has the power to make strong connections and change perceptions. It permeates our culture, but we are often flooded with so much of it that even a lot of very good design can become easy to ignore. Or at least not think about it too much.

But what it it that really influences us to interact and connect with design on an emotional level?


Say it loud

phil lumbang elephant street artThe graffiti mentioned below is gone now, but this elephant will probably make you happy. Street art by Phil Lumbang.


Experiencing happiness from design came come from odd places sometimes. I remember when driving down the interstate to see a friend, there was a portion of wall on the side of the road with “YOU ARE AWESOME” painted across it in enormous letters. It always managed to improve my day, even if just by a little bit. The lettering wasn’t anything too incredible, in fact it seemed intentionally unrefined. But, I could always expect to see it on my drive over. Eventually, even the anticipation of seeing it would elevate my mood. I like to imagine many of the thousands of people passing by throughout the day felt much the same too.


wish for peace muralCredit: WHAT. Creative Group.


The experience as a whole was just a small part of the day. A simple positive thought, but presented in a grand fashion. That made it something special and memorable.

Always be searching for new ways for people to experience your design. Most of us work primarily from their computers, so it can sometimes be difficult to consider how a piece of design will be viewed outside of the digital arena. You can browse the for the most amazing work all day on a screen, but there is just something much so more satisfying about seeing that art in person.


happiness doodles
Photo Credit: Fancycrave.

A few general tips for designing with happiness

• Find new and unexpected ways for your work to be seen.
• Involve yourself with projects that will help to improve your community.
• Be genuine, and start with positivity in mind
• Stay fluid with your work. Create things that are fun for you.
• Don’t censor your ideas. You can always fine tune later.

Good vibes are contagious, so have fun and spread them around. Most of this probably sounds like general design advice you’ve heard before. But if you follow it, you will convey more sincere emotion and end up with more and personal creations. So don’t be too hard on yourself. You have some great ideas that others will readily connect to.


About the Author

Sam is the lead visual designer at DesignUps. Sam's attention to detail and insight into the design process produces great clarity. When he's not putting pixels in their perfect spot he may be pursuing some of Japan's finest anime.