Designing for Customization: Mason and Your Brand

Design is supposed to capture your audience’s attention, bring them in and spark curiosity; but what if you’re designing to be changed or erased completely?  

At Mason we aim for our products to be completely customizable – often comparing them to a blank canvas. Although most of this customization is manual today, in future states we envision a world where you could design custom hardware, software and even packaging for a new smart product all within a single web app and have the proof-of-concept drop shipped directly to where it needs to be. Why do we want this? Because we believe smart products should be designed per use case, and innovators should have control over the entire experience, vs just slapping their application on some basic consumer device.

We’re still working towards that reality but in the meantime we’re doing what any good startup would do, building out iterative versions of our MVP.  For now that starts with our developer kit paired with our web app, Controller.  Or to kick start this process, you can talk directly with our solutions architects to help build a proof of concept.

These two things work together to create that blank canvas for our clients, a device you can customize and control through software using Controller. In our canvas analogy the device would be the canvas and Controller would be the artist holding the brush, enabled and ready with creativity, imagination and innovation.

An ideal situation for these products would be a software company that has an app that needs a dedicated device (learn more about Masons solutions here). For the sake of our topic we’re going to use an imaginary software company called iHeartLives. 

Our user would sign up for a Mason account, order their developer kit, upload their logo and custom APK and ship it. When the kit arrives it’s already customized with their branding on the packaging, their logo in the bootup, and their application on the device right out of the box. If the user were to choose not to upload or customize anything, then the kit would be sent with Mason branding.

This is where it gets fun for you designers out there… we had to think about that future state we discussed earlier, how could we design now to help automate these processes in the future? The answer came how they usually do, after lots of brainstorming (questioning your career as a designer lol) and then a nice walk away from it all: The key to designing for unknown customizations is to keep your designs minimal but their potential expansive.

Like I mentioned earlier, the idea of a completely customizable end product runs deep within the soul of Mason, so the entire brand was built on this concept of being changed depending on the client, the scenario, the use case, literally trying to be a blank canvas. That means consistently using minimal, modular, and flexible design.

“Minimalism is not a style, it is an attitude, a way of being. It’s fundamental reaction against noise, visual noise, disorder, vulgarity. Minimalism is the pursuit of the essence of things not the appearance.”

Massimo Vignelli

I’m with Massimo – keeping things simple isn’t as simple as it looks, it is ‘the pursuit of the essence of things’, or a reflection of the message we’re trying to convey. It’s the practice of the fundamental idea that form follows function, because like we mentioned earlier, we believe smart products should be designed per use case and innovators should have control over the entire experience, not just a logo or a bootup animation. I digress… the point is we keep it simple so there’s room for your innovation, creativity, and story – which is the real essence of the thing.

In summary…

The way we’ve built the Mason brand allows us to be extremely efficient in our design processes whether they are creating things for our brand, or adjusting our products to blend into our users’ environments.