Design Is More Than Just Pretty

Jan. 30, 2021

Design is all around us. Most often we aren't even aware of it and that means it's working exactly the way that it should. This is what good design does. But when design doesn't work, we definitely notice.

Bad design isn't just about being ugly.

Bad design isn't just about being ugly, it's also about how well it works inside its environment. Whether it's type that's too small to read, a brand's messaging that confuses their consumers, or a poorly organized website that requires multiple clicks to do a simple task, bad design can confuse us or slow us down. This can cause a breakdown in consumer loyalty.

"Only when the design fails does it draw attention to itself.
When it succeeds it's invisible"
-John D. Berry

Nerd Alert

John D. Berry wrote this quote when describing how the use of type in a Table of Contents can affect the reader's ability to quickly use it as a reference tool and also how well the design integrates into the overall format of the rest of a book. But the quote is relevant in so many other aspects of design, so I chose to use it here in the context of branding.

If we imagine our target audience is sitting in the driver's seat and the roadways are all the ways they may interact with our brand, we need to make sure that ride is a smooth one. So we might ask: where are there obstacles? where are they getting bogged down? where might there be confusion? is it visually consistent? is our message clear? is our story compelling enough for them to continue?

Image shows a car navigating a confusing path - symbolizes how bad design causes confusionGood design isn't just about being pretty.

Good design means knowing your audience well enough to shape an experience that will delight them and inviting them to keep coming back. So how do we know if we've achieved good design? We can ask ourselves these questions:

  1. Is the design appropriate?

  2. Is it legible?

  3. Is the message clear?

  4. Is the call to action clear?

  5. Is it user-friendly?

  6. Is it creating a positive experience for the consumer? If so, then how?

Image that shows a car smoothly going in the right direction - symbolizes that good design brings clarity, not confusion.A designer can set you on the right path.

Designers create things that are beautiful, but that's only the visible result of what we really do. Good design is functional. It solves a problem, engages the right audience, and delivers a positive experience while interacting with a product or service. It can call us to action, persuade us to buy something, invite us to support a movement, and it can teach us.

A designer will listen to your idea and understand your goal. We'll ask questions about what you do, who your audience is, what you want the audience to do or experience, and how others in your industry might approach the same problem. Research, exploration, and experimentation is a big part of a designer's process and that's where good design begins. Research helps us think strategically about what you want to accomplish and create the right design solution that helps you achieve your goal. The design solution should be unique to your business and fit within your brand. It should not be generic.

When looking for a designer, ask about their process and how they will arrive at the right design decisions. The goal shouldn't be to have something that's pretty—the goal should be a well-designed, well-thought out product that invites consumers to use and enjoy. This builds brand loyalty. And yes, it will be pretty.

Not sure when to seek out a designer? Stay tuned for our next post to find out.



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