What is Good Design?
Good Design Is Emotional.
It elicits a gut response from you. While this might be subconscious, it is always at work. Designers are always playing with this facet of our craft, trying to fine-tune the correct feel to a piece. When it feels right it will look right. When dealing with a designer it is good for you to have a sense of how you feel about the product being promoted, or better yet, how you want the viewing public to feel about it. Is it powerful, strong, industrial strength? Or is it elegant, refined and dainty? Is it traditional or modern? Casual or formal? The use of typography, white space, line weight, color, rendering style and dozens of other factors come into play to achieve the desired feel.
Good Design Is Efficient.
It is easy to read and to the point. The best design is often the simplest. It is the designers job to get maximum effectiveness with the fewest elements. Logos and graphic symbols need to reproduce well in small sizes and in one color.
Good Design Is Focused.
It shouldn’t be confusing. Your eye is told directly where to look. This is one of the jobs of good layout, but there’s more to it than that. Good design creates a flow from thought to thought and a consistency in style and presentation. The feel of a single piece won’t change as you read through it and the various pieces of a campaign will maintain a continuity as they are introduced. This all a function of building familiarity and trust in your product.
Good Design Stands Out.
Even if it’s in a style far from your usual preference, good design is compelling. If you collected the business cards of ten people all in the same business and laid them out in front of you, two or three would immediately pop out as the most professional or desirable. These are the people you will subconsciously want to do business with. Not because they like the same colors and typestyles and graphics you like, but because they have efficiently presented you with a focused image of themselves that created an appropriate emotional response.
Good Design Gets Remembered.
We are all bombarded with visual advertising images every day. From the sublime to the ridiculous, they parade past our line of sight in an endless stream. From magazine ads to billboards, storefront signs to soup cans, and the almighty TV, there is so much being thrown at us we are understandably numb to it – consciously. On another level we are constantly processing that graphic information, making instant judgements on what is worth looking at long enough to really see. When we pause long enough to give something a closer look, it is usually done without knowing why.
The reasons we notice some things and not others are all the points outlined above. If the image was illegible, inappropriate, confusing or incongruent, it is dismissed and forgotten almost instantly. Any image that sticks must have met at least some of the design criteria properly. It is employing some aspect of good design.
Is your logo, signs, advertising, etc. memorable to others? If your business card was one in a pile of ten would someone pick yours as outstanding? What does your business image say to the world? Ask sometime, and listen very closely to the answers.
-Joe Rees c.1995