In this episode, we’ll explore some of the basic aspects of good design and expel some common misconceptions while we’re at it.
We’ll mainly use book jacket design as the primary example, but this applies equally to websites, print materials, advertisements, and just about any other design you can think of.
Some of the top misconceptions:
- “Design is all about making something look pretty”
- “Design is solely an art form”
- “Good design is all about breaking the rules”
- “My personal preferences are an accurate gauge for what is and isn’t good design”
What makes good design?
- Clarity: Design is a visual medium through which we’re communicating a message. Just as in a conversation, using a paragraph when a sentence will do, will confuse the main point being made. As it’s been written, the more the words, the less the meaning. The same concept applies to design. The old adage “less is more” applies to just about any design.
- Accuracy: Someone can create the most beautiful design in the history of man, but if it doesn’t fit the subject matter, it’s all for naught. That’s why the best designs are those that fit the subject matter, target market, and successfully capture the mood needing to be portrayed.
- Uniqueness: Often times when designing a book jacket, the goal is to deliver something that not only fits the subject matter, but does so in an unexpected fashion. Often times I’ll look through hundreds of book jackets pertaining to a specific genre—not for the purpose of copying, but just the opposite, strategizing how I can deliver a design that will stand out from the crowd.
- Functionality: This pertains to designs that are more interactive in nature, yet it’s an important aspect nonetheless. Paraphrasing Steve Jobs who once said design isn’t about how it looks, it’s how it works. That’s exactly right. Similar to paint on a house, a design is only as strong as the functionality it sits upon.
Why is good design important?
- For better or worse, design is most often a first impression.
- Good design can be the difference between making your point loud and clear, and completely confusing your audience.
- A design plays a large role in how you’re remembered, again, for better or for worse.
- Most importantly, good design is a way to serve your audience.
More in-depth study
- Check out the book The Non-Designer’s Handbook*
*This is an Amazon affiliate link.