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I Don’t Just Make Things Look Pretty
If that’s the case then I guess the business world is a very successful place and pigs have their own airports.
Really, I don’t. As a professional graphic designer it’s not in my job description to just make things look pretty. Look around you. Someone DESIGNED everything you see or touch. Someone trained, experienced and talented. True there is bad design out there, but for the most part, the world is filled with good design. Yet, as a graphic designer, time after time I’ve been asked to make something, “look pretty.”
Apparently there’s a miss conception out in the business world that “pretty” is all it takes to make a product or service successful. If that’s the case then I guess the business world is a very successful place and pigs have their own airports. Time to burst the bubble: It takes more than just making something pretty to sell a product/service. It takes a lot of thinking, planning, marketing, strategy, more thinking, research, knowing the competition…I could go on and on. Just hiring a designer to make your logo, identity, building sign or brochure, “pretty” isn’t going to cut it. Never has, never will.
The buying public is more sophisticated than we give them credit for. Often times as business owners, we talk down to them and expect them just to accept whatever we throw at them. It doesn’t work. If it did there would be no need for advertising and marketing. The buying public knows when they are being scammed into accepting second best. P.T. Barnum may have thought that there’s a “sucker born every second,” but that was over a hundred years ago. The consumer now has better designed and thought out information thrown at them in a second than P.T. Barnum saw in a lifetime.
Taking the intellect of the daily consumer for granted is a mistake that no small businessperson should make. Thinking that if you just “make it pretty” they will come is a fallacy. Designers do so much more than just make things look good.
Color Color can drive us in a certain direction, make us think in a certain way and even trigger good or bad emotions. Fast food restaurants spend thousands of dollars choosing the color of their identity and buildings just to get people to come in and purchase food. Yet many small business people couldn’t tell you why their logo is pink. At best they might utter, “Because my daughter likes pink.” Not a well thought out reason. Yet I have set in many a meeting where that’s just how the colors got picked.
White space IS important One of the most misunderstood elements of design is white space. Small business-owners sometimes think that since they’re paying for a designer to produce something for them they must get their money’s worth and fill up all the white space. White space, when used properly, allows the viewer to have a place to rest the eye if only for a moment. This makes the design more inviting and attractive to the viewer who then spends more time taking in the message. After all the entire message is what you want them to get.
You can’t have everything at the top Anything that’s well designed has a hierarchy to it. There’s always the first thing you see, then the second and so on. This is thought out and planned. If everything is screaming at you to look at it, the viewer just walks away out of confusing, not knowing where to start. This takes a trained professional to plan this out and make it work. It’s this level of thought that is the nuts and bolts of design.
Good design is so much more than making things pretty. It’s an important aspect to our everyday lives. From the building you work in to the widget in your kitchen drawer, somewhere along the line a designer had to touch it, think about it, and design it.
Learn more about the author, Michael Irvin.
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- good design
- graphic design
- small business
- more than pretty