How do you know when design is actually good?
Design is good when I like it. Next question!
Hold on Buckaroo. I’ll agree your opinion is as important and valid as the next person’s but just because you like something doesn’t actually make it good design. When you like or dislike design it is simply a reflection of your taste—which is formed by previous experiences typically. Liking a particular design is your personal opinion. And everyone in the world is entitled to one, but opinions hold about as much value as Monopoly money.
But abstract art? Come on, that can’t be good!
I know it might just look like blue dots on a white canvas to you but you bring up a good point. Art and design are related, but they have different purposes. In art, everyone will walk away having had a unique experience. Art by its very nature calls for a personal response. Design, on the other hand, has a specific purpose. Imagine if every viewer of a single design, say a brochure, said it meant something different? Which brings us to the heart of the matter—Good design communicates clearly.
So, I don’t have to like it for it to be a good design?
Exactly! If the design communicates a similar message to everyone in its target market, it’s considered good design. In fact, design can be equally effective when you don’t like it. Remember, design is good when it communicates effectively. Think of all of the annoying advertisements you simply can’t forget, even when you actively try.
Are you saying good design needs to be annoying?
Not at all. What I am saying is if you are asking a designer to create something for you, don’t make pleasing yourself the most important goal. Make sure the design communicates appropriately and doesn’t confuse your target audience. And just to be clear, everything about your design is communicating something, from the composition and color to the size and shape.
How can design communicate more than just words?
So let’s say you’re thinking of changing banks and you drive by and see this logo for the First National Bank. The bank wants to be seen as friendly and approachable and they create a new logo to communicate these attributes. Sure, the words in the logo tell you this is a bank, but would you put your money with them? I sure wouldn’t. But people ask designers to create designs for an audience of one all the time. “I love purple so you have to use purple!”
Good design communicates clearly, appropriately, and effectively and, for the most part, is appealing to the target market.
I can’t stand the logo for Claire’s Tea Room. It’s not my taste.But I can clearly see how it could be an effective design for the target audience because it is clearly telling you what to expect if you should visit—a fun, casual place where (mostly) women can get some affordable tea.
Let’s test your new informed opinion!
What is the design below communicating? Is it a good design?
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