Mystery is Necessary: To Inform and Delight

Key’s film To Inform and Delight was an interesting insight into the mind of the design world’s most revered designer. There was something about Glaser that initially made me cringe. Whether it was the nonchalantness or the intensity of his eloquence, I’m not sure. However, it was somewhere near the beginning of the film where he said:

“I explained to students in terms of understanding communication that the creation of a puzzle is one of the tools that you have to make people understand things. When they activate the mind to try to figure something out, the likelihood is that they will remember and respond to it more than if they were told something directly.”

I think we all subconsciously know that mystery is appealing, intrigue is desired. When one is designing something, interest is created if the creation raises questions in the viewer rather than answers them. To hear this from one of the most successful designers in the world in such a direct and simplified way was a wake-up call.

Informing the viewer is one aspect of design. Delighting is another. The third and most important aspect is to tease the viewer: make them wonder, question, long, etc. Create a puzzle the viewer can attempt to solve, which is a puzzle in itself.


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