5 finds that every product designer must steal from Ghibli

Original author: Shekhar Gurav
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"People are endowed with both the desire to create and destroy." - Hayao Miyazaki

For the uninitiated, Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation studio founded by artist Hayao Miyazaki. Since 1985, each of their work sets new standards in the world of animation. More interestingly, their films found an audience among people of all age groups and nationalities. Isn't this a DREAM of every product designer ?!

Therefore, I decided to approach the issue of “design-style” in order to understand what I can learn from the films of the Ghibli studio. And here is what I learned:

1. Simplicity

The script for each Ghibli movie was written with five-year-olds in mind. For example, the work “My Neighbor Totoro” (the cartoon from which I took the title image for the article) is based on a story that is briefly described in the IMDb movie database as:

The Adventures of Two Girls with Amazing Forest Spirits

This is a simple story. But hey! It is very layered. Here are the experiences associated with the illness of the mother, and the desire to learn about growing up and exploring the world. Here is an indescribable fear of responsibility. So, while a five-year-old child can enjoy the adventures of girls, any adult will meet vivid emotions.

Now let's take a look at the Fantastical calendar appthat perfectly follows this principle.

Entering an event in Fantastical on Mac

Immediately after you click ⌃⌥ Space on mac, Fantastical flips you right to the text cursor, and you can start typing whatever you want to see in your schedule. Also, while you type, the application changes the details of the event reminder in the details panel in real time. So the new user (child) does not need any training in order to use the main functions of the program.

At the same time, for an advanced user (adult), the natural language analyzer will well recognize everything that he / she could enter into the program: signal time, reminder time, which calendar to use, event location, etc.

Focus on core functions. Make it so that the user can easily access, use and easily learn how to famously understand these functions.

Another good example is the Instagram app with its constant focus on the shoot button (just open it on your phone and see for yourself).

The product that loses a lot when it comes to ease of use is Twitter. The latter came up with his own Twitter Quill pen icon for writing text. It is not highlighted in any way and is lost among six or seven other icons on the application screen. Maybe Twitter doesn’t want the new user to send tweets?

2. Particular attention to detail

In fact, this gif does not reflect all the beauty of the stunning castle in the animated film "The Walking Castle", created in 2004.

Let's take a look at another Ghibli painting, Walking Castle. Each fragment of this strange fantastic castle is drawn to the smallest detail, and its fancifully moving parts create a single whole, making the castle itself a charming character.

Similarly, the character of the product is made up of all carefully thought-out smallest details.

The Airbnb web application is a great example of visually presenting really important information to the user.

Price range filter in Airbnb The

price range histogram helps the user immediately understand the average prices in the city and, based on this, set a filter.

A good example of adapting to the nuances of user behavior is the Chrome Web browser. When you try to close tabs one by one, Chrome keeps their width - then the close button is in the same place. Try closing several tabs in Safari / IE using the mouse or trackpad, and you will understand what I mean ( the author’s words are disproved in the discussion below - translator comment )

3. Show your human face

Even the monsters in the films of the Ghibli studio are endowed with human features. Even the locks. Or cats! Ghibli animators achieved this by drawing the eyes of the characters, their expressions ... or the lack of expression, as in this picture :)

Not just a “kote”. Adapted from “The Return of the Cat”, 2002. The

product can show its human side with the help of such tools as: acquaintance with the service, error messages, offline messages, loading screen, etc. Choose for yourself.

Let your product be not only an assistant for the user, give him the opportunity to become their friend.

Corporate messenger Slack perfectly developed his idea with Slackbot. He welcomes you when you register, adds all the details of your profile using conversational phrases, and communicates with you during setup. In addition, he does all this in a magnificent witty manner. No wonder the web is full of top Slack stories!

Slackbot: TARS Invention by Slack

4. Tell a story


5. Adapt her

A good story in the beginning arouses curiosity, then introduces the environment and the characters, and finally draws you into the world of adventure. If you go too far with a series of events, then even something quite ordinary will come out of a wonderful story.

I would not want to ruin your meeting with Ghibli cartoons. In no case. Therefore, I will not set an example taken from the work of the studio. But I believe the main principles are quite universal.

Content is the foundation of any good design.

Let’s now see how great it was in Airbnb. Hmm, these guys have great design talent!

Firstly, at the very beginning you get to the page with a warm welcome and "genuinely happy" photos. Secondly, you get attention-grabbing stories, such as, for example, “Welcome home,” “Be yours everywhere,” “One lesser stranger,” etc.

Thirdly, the content elements that make up the content model (content flow) are updated, adapting to user behavior. For example, when you first visit the Airbnb homepage, the Explore section is hidden. Then browse through some offers and return to the home page - you will see the Explore section with destinations that are selected in accordance with the history of the offers you have previously opened. All of these elements, no matter how much information you have, are very important for product design.

That's all! Now go and steal gracefully, like artists.

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