You’d think there would be a simple answer to the age-old question What is Good Design? Unfortunately delving into the minds of consumers, clients or whatever they may be in your situation isn’t an easy process. Not everybody’s tastes are the same and figuring out your audiences’ likes and dislikes can be tricky.
As a designer one of the challenges I’m faced with every day is the subjective nature of design. No client is the same, just as no brief is the same. It’s about getting the perfect balance to achieve a positive outcome – which is good design.
To cut out some of the guess work, it all comes down to a series of questions. Dieter Rams’ 10 principles for good design in fact. Dieter Rams was an industrial designer who created beautiful and useful products that you most likely have come across. His thought process still rings true today and I couldn’t agree more with his principles.
Dieter Rams’ 10 principles for good design:
- Innovation – Making a design innovative isn’t always re-inventing the wheel with the latest and greatest technology. It could simply be a refresh of your brand or existing product. Rams says ”design always develops in tandem with improving technology, and can never be an end in itself.”
- Usefulness/functionality – Everything designed has a purpose or a function. Emphasis on its usefulness or function is the key and eliminating anything that could distract from this.”
- Aesthetic – A design should be aesthetically appealing to your target audience. If people are relating to your product/service/brand on a daily basis you want it to have a positive effect on the consumer. The visual appearance of a product is integral to its overall usefulness.
- Understandable – The best outcome for your design is that it is self- explanatory and uses the intuition of the user. Good design clearly expresses the function of the product/service/brand.
- Unobtrusive – The design should be pleasing to look at but not demand more attention then what its purpose is. When its purpose is a tool, it should clearly demonstrate that it is useful and shouldn’t be decorative. If your business is in selling, you’ll need your great idea or product to turn heads, not annoy.
- Is honest – “It does not make a product appear more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.”
- Long lasting – Put simple, trends are trends. They are over before they begin. A timeless design is good design. A good example of this is the Coca Cola packaging or Coco Chanel branding.
- Detail focused- Every detail of how the product will be used is considered important. You shouldn’t assume the user will be able to figure it out.
- Environmentally friendly – Design with the view of using as little resources as possible. You also need to consider does your design fit into the environment it will be in.
- Have as little design as possible – Have you ever heard of the saying KISS – Keep it simple stupid. Well there is a reason for that. Design what is necessary to make a beautiful product easy to use. No more.
In summary, good design isn’t just about what looks good, it needs to communicate a message. It needs to perform, convert your way of thinking and all in all, have a purpose. It can be done creatively or in a “just get the job done approach,” both with differing effects. By asking yourself if your design uses these 10 guidelines are these you will be on your way to having a productive brand, service or product.