I’m not a designer but I like to think I know the difference between good and not so good design. You may disagree with my judgements but that’s the great thing about design, its an opinion. Design is like Art but on a practical level. Design is all around us – the chair you are sitting on, the keyboard you are touching and the building you find yourself in. Design is at the heart of everything. I believe what makes a good design is a holistic creation right through a product or service. A design should effectively connect the consumer with the product or service.
Ryan Carson Twitted this week linking to 36 imaginative business card designs. The card designs go from creative to surreal. Many of these cards are great ideas. However a good design is a tightly woven combination of an appealing visual form and an underlying practical purpose. Of course the purpose can vary a great deal.
I’ve picked out my favorite three creative business cards from the 36 but find myself asking what is the purpose of these wonderful designs? These cards are produced by designers for designers. They are there to impress each other with their creative ability. For the vast majority of consumers the message of these cards send out may be too strong or give the wrong impression. So before we pick a ‘nice’ looking design for anything we need to first understand the purpose of the design. Designs are a journey, they connect people. They connect the consumer with the producer through a product or service designer.
Designs therefore should start from the inside of a product or service and work outwards. The external design form is the most important part but it is also not the most important.. A design should also be attractive from the inside as well as the outside. A good design should make a ‘thing’ more friendly, usable and appealing. Apple has done a wonderful job with the ipod and iphone. Apples devices are much more friendly, usable and appealing than many of the alternatives. That’s why they have been so successful. A good designer listens and understands their customers. They understand the purpose and the need.
I recently heard a fascinating talk from Design Award Winning Wayne Hemingway. Wayne referred to modern residential housing as “sh*t buildings” or “prisons”. So he designed houses around peoples needs. He understood the need for people to be social and part of a community. Wayne is not a building designer but he listens and empathises. In a way we are all designers. We create whenever we form or change a service or product. A good design and redesign often come at a higher cost than a unthought out design. But why not spend more time getting a service or product right so that it is well used and loved rather than becoming unwanted.