Good Design is Subjective, Contextual, and Intentional

Urban planners have been designing for human experiences for nearly 200 years, and UI/UX designers can learn from this

  • Tom Seiple
Keywords: Urban Planning, Urban Design, UI, UX, User Experience, User Interface


Many of us have come to depend on the internet and software as part of our daily lives. The virtual world is increasingly an integrated part of our physical world. As such, they tend to mirror one another, leveraging similar design approaches and principles. There are patterns and echoes in the digital world of UI/UX that clearly mimic the proven methods of urban planning and architecture practitioners. Today’s world of websites, mobile apps, and digital services has permeated nearly every aspect of life. Most applications don’t literally interact with our world, but they certainly resemble the ways we move about our physical cities. The user journey of going out into your town or city to find a store to buy new shoes is not all that different from ordering them from an e-commerce site. In fact, the relatively young field of user design unknowingly borrows a lot of fundamentals of urban design that facilitate this type of real-world transaction. As services move to the digital world, the problems they solve are still grounded in reality, as such they often reflect their physical replacement. We have “virtual shopping carts,” “home screens,” “email,” and so many other digital artifacts that mirror their physical counterparts both in name and function. Designers have digitized elements and services of the city and unknowingly, replicated the city in a virtual setting. As a result, the same design values that have grown out of centuries of canonized design are highly applicable to this new digital landscape. 

How to Cite
Seiple, T. (2023). Good Design is Subjective, Contextual, and Intentional. UXUC - User Experience and Urban Creativity, 5(2), 8 - 19.