Recently I've been thinking about designing something that will allow other humans to create another thing. And still keep it looking good.
The best way seems to be restricting their choice.
People don't need to make every part of a thing to feel like they've created it and by restricting choice you're guaranteed to get something good out of it.
And I'm not just talking about the design of documents or graphics. Yet.
Flickr for example are very good at letting you play around with your page, but ensuring that the actual webpage still looks great.
You can edit the text on your page, but you can only edit the yellow bits:
Apple are good at this too.
All you designers think those photobooks are too restrictive, but remember, these services are aimed at people who aren't designers. That's the point. That's why they're using these services. It's very hard to make an ugly photo book, that's because of the restrictions they have made. Or, if we change the word restrictions for design choices, that's because of the design choices they have made.
Here's an example of how you could give people a little too much choice. A few months ago, Jeremy was making a book, in front of my eyes, in the pub. Suddenly he asked if Garamond was a good font. Instantly, Harriet and I, the two designers present, said, "NO!". All designers know that Garamond is not a good font and maybe Lulu should have taken that out of their list of options.
And, seeing as this post gets sillier as it goes on, here's a pub bench.
Everyone loves these benches. You see them in dirty brown pubs and posh back gardens. They're nice to sit at, they always work. You never arrive in a pub garden and find the table bit missing. They restrict choice in a good way.
There will be more.