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What Makes Good Design

By travisadrian Jun 10, 2012 546 Words
There is not one definite answer to this question or simply one principle that makes a design "good" or "bad". It is the intersection of the principles of design, as well as form and function, that make a good design. In his book, author Tim Samara has general rules for producing good design. However it was said by typographer, David Jury that, "Rules can be broken, but never ignored."

While considering the principles of design is important, there are certain principles that do make a design more successful. In my opinion, one of these specific principles is contrast. Contrast is what makes the elements of the design different from one another, visually. This can be accomplished through color and shading. Not only is it important to have contrast, but it is important to achieve the correct amount of contrast. Too much contrast can make a design too sharp or hard on the eyes, and not enough contrast can make the design bland or undistinguishable.

Another of these principles which I find important is repetition. Repetition is the idea of elements in a design having consistency. This principle is important because the lack of repetition may confuse or disorient the viewer. Too much repetition, on the other hand, can become boring or uninteresting. Repetition can also be a principle used across multiple designs to tie them together visually.

A good design, most importantly, must communicate well to the proposed audience, delivering the desired message, or solving the associated problem. The design must also achieve its intended goal to be considered quality. (Samara, 2007, p. 7). Advertisements, for example, usually have a specific target audience, based on characteristics such as gender and age, as well as a specific message to deliver. With the goal of the advertisement being to sell goods and services, you may base the quality of the design on how many people encounter it and purchase the good or service.

These two images were used as print advertisements for Nike ID, a service enabling the consumer to design their own shoe. The proof of concept for the ad is showing the original shoe coming together as if someone is designing it. The design expresses great contrast with the colors used, not making it difficult to view. The colors are distinct enough to make the images interesting and eye pleasing, without them appearing bland or insipid. The movement and rhythm in the two designs is also very appealing. They expresses repetition by the way the advertisements were arranged. The images have been used in magazines as full page advertisements, one right after another. They are different enough to distinguish from each other, but similar enough to realize that they are presenting the same thing. I would also consider this a quality design because it communicates the concept of the service to the viewer purely through visuals, using no words. Samara says in his book that good design "helps people understand not just what they're seeing, but what seeing it means to them." (Samara, 2007, p. 33).

Alejo, L. (Artist). (2008). Nike ID. Brooklyn, NY; Hush Studios. Retrieved April 24, 2012, from Samara, T. (2007). Design Elements: A graphic style manual (pp. 6-7). Minneapolis, MN: Rockport Publishers.

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