Words in design

Words in design

Have you ever realised that the words used to describe a designer’s work are often the same used for a translator’s work?

Translation of a concept into a visual product
Verbal/visual references

In design, there is no source language, but something (a concept, an idea, a need) to be interpreted and finally translated into a perceivable creation. Its shape/color/surface/etc. translate its function into the language of perceivable expression.

And, as is also the case with text translation, cultural differences play a key role.
Just like translation is not simply a matter of words, but of culturally-connotated concepts, design is not simply a matter of symbols.

A color can mean different things in different cultures.
An arrow can be interpreted in different ways depending on whether a person reads from left to right or from right to left.
The meaning of a pictogram can be completely missed.

Not to mention that any text (in the broadest sense possible) around a designer object, from its title and description to user instructions, up to its label and packaging (where applicable), carries meanings that must be translated, again, in the widest sense possible of the term.