When we regard design as art, we deceive ourselves for a number of reasons. For one thing, it promotes the mistaken notion that nice design is judgmental. Any design has quantifiable points of reference that we can use to estimate its worth.
Next, referring to design as an art promotes the false belief that design is an inborn skill that cannot be learned. It’s not required to have an innate Picasso-level artistic talent to master digital product design. Good design can be taught, and that’s the purpose of this article.
You need to be able to look beyond appearance and to help with that, I’ve put together a three-point list. There are many nuances, each of which I have tried to explain.
1. Is design effective?
The need for design is caused by a problem that needs to be solved. It may be a website that needs ease of use, a product that needs to appeal to a certain audience or a new business that needs a logo.
This is the first property to determine a good design. If it doesn’t solve the problem, you don’t have to continue – the design is definitely bad. It doesn’t matter how good it looks if it doesn’t fulfill the main purpose of its existence.
I think this is one of the main reasons why many designers are so annoyed with clients and bosses. Designers sometimes try to create something cool for their portfolio without fully understanding the problem. They forget that they work for clients, not for themselves, and should be focused on our needs.
2. Is it setting the right tone?
To understand this, you first need to understand the brand and its audience.
The term “brand” is usually associated with business, but it’s not limited to that. Many things can have a brand, even you. Your brand is how people perceive you, the same goes for companies and everything else. Good design helps a company control its brand and shape the public’s opinion of itself.
A company usually has a target audience, and it can be either very broad or niche. If you know how the company wants to showcase itself and who the design is being created for, you have to ask, “What would be appropriate for them?”
The broader the audience, the cleaner and more conventional the design has to be, so companies lose “some of their soul” as they grow. It comes to the idea that using templates and mockups like this free magazine mockup becomes a great opportunity to simplify the design. This happens because certain design tricks that work for a small niche won’t be understood by a wide audience, so the company sacrifices them to attract more people. But if your audience is small and very specific, you can rely on such things to make the design appealing and interesting to them.
3. Does good design stand the test of time?
Good design is time-sensitive. Ideally, design can be timeless, but this is not always necessary or desirable. It depends on the purpose and lifespan of the design.
Can digital products be timeless?
If you’re creating a site that will be replaced or updated in two years, it makes sense to apply this year’s trends. Your design will look modern and relevant. However, you should look ahead and know where the trends are headed. There’s nothing worse than catching the wave too late.
On the other hand, if we’re talking about a logo, then yes, you should avoid short-lived design trends. If we look at the Starbucks logo, we see that there is a tendency to simplify it, so the simpler the logo, the longer it will live.
To understand whether a design is more than just the sum of its parts, you have to take a closer look. This happens when the design becomes not just a combination of good typography and colors, but also contains a brilliant idea that brings everything together and takes it to the next level.
A simple but perfect example is the FedEx logo. Between the E and the X, you may notice a small arrow cleverly hidden in the negative space. It symbolizes the company’s neatness and precision.
That’s what separates good designers from great designers. Good designers rely on their technical skills and base their design on principles, but great designers bring something of their own into the equation.
You may also like: Top Tips for Beginner Graphic Designers Who Are Designing a Logo
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