Good design is more than making things pretty

As a designer, I obviously want everything I create to look great, as well as being impactful and eye-catching. But good design isn’t all about making things look pretty, it’s about so much more, including:

  1. Functionality – if a tube map was to scale, image how big it would be!
  2. Presenting information in the right way – shape, size, colour and simple imagery as used in road signage
  3. Helping people to use things properly – clear, easy to understand user guides or instructions
  4. Creating visual systems that establish hierarchy and order – text broken up by coloured boxes, headings, bullet points etc.
  5. Making complex problems simple – infographics to present complex data or information quickly and clearly

Conveying information effectively

Graphic design is essentially about conveying information clearly, so the end-user can get what they need from it quickly and easily. Whether that’s a map, leaflet, user guide or promotional marketing materials, my job is to ensure the design can grab and then hold people’s attention, whilst telling them what they need or want to know.

Fickle readers

Of course, we believe everything we produce gets read in the way that we think it should be, but people are fickle, and time is always of the essence. It’s a cold hard fact, but no one will read your information from beginning to end in the right sequence. We either choose to skim read or navigate to the areas we need and ignore the rest. 

As designers, this presents a challenge. That’s why we opt for headings, sub-headings, quotes, box-outs, charts and imagery to break up the text. We also like to give people options, so they can read things their way. So, by breaking up the content, providing summaries, indexes, content lists for larger documents, and of course formatting, we can improve navigation and in turn user engagement.

Space – the final frontier

We also love space. It helps content to breathe, enabling people to actually read it. There is nothing worse than too many words on a page. It makes your brain physically hurt because there’s too much there for it to process things easily.

But whilst layout, structure and content are important, if you don’t have a design which is impactful, no on will want to pick up your brochure, flyer, or leaflet, let alone read it!

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