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Recipe for good design

If we know that graphic design is an applied art, and every work of art is subjective, how do we even recognize good design? Is there a recipe for good design or is the story more complicated?

When I look back on my twenty-year experience of working in this beautiful visual world, I can definitely say that it is a combination of education, experience, and following historical and trendy works, but for the most part it is a personal attitude towards this applied art. For me, it has become a way of expression and a means through which I leave my mark. This enchanted world of colors and shapes of mine has helped me to build my distinctive voice of creative expression over the years.

Vizual "Volimo stvarati dobre vizualne priče"

In the simplest terms, every design, to fulfill its purpose, must include certain elements. Just as a working machine must have all the necessary parts to fulfill its task, so a design must contain its elements and follow certain rules in order to be noticed and achieve its goal. Commonly recognized design principles are:

  1. Balance
  2. Contrast
  3. Emphasis
  4. Movement
  5. Proportion/scale
  6. Repetition/rhythm
  7. Unity/harmony

In addition, in our creative agency we often include a very important principle, which is white space – the whiteness that gives the design space to breathe. White space, even though it is called that, does not necessarily have to be white because painted surfaces are also considered. What is crucial about this rule is that it is a space free of graphic, textual or pictorial elements. Its main purpose is to calm the viewer’s gaze and direct it to key information.

Dieter Rams, although an industrial designer, gave guidelines for good design that are largely applicable to graphic design as well:

  1. Good design is innovative
  2. Good design makes a product useful
  3. Good design is aesthetic
  4. Good design makes a product understandable
  5. Good design is unobtrusive
  6. Good design is honest
  7. Good design is long-lasting
  8. Good design is thorough down to the last detail (iliti: vrag je u detaljima)
  9. Good design is environmentally friendly
  10. Good design is as little design as possible

Rams’ principles are an excellent foundation for building good design, and the seven general principles serve as good guidelines for creating visually appealing and effective designs, but one question still arises: how do you know if a design is good or not?

So, if think about it, have you ever seen an incomprehensible sign on the side of the road or visited a website that you don’t know your way around? Did that cause you a little frustration? Then you know that you have been introduced to a bad design.

“Good design, when done well, becomes invisible. We only notice when something bad is done.” – Jared Spool

Logo D.Point / kreativne agencije on screen on a working desk

It is likely that the website mentioned above was made in accordance with design principles, but very often it is not enough to just blindly follow these principles. Good design requires something more. That something more, at D.Point / creative agency, we call butterflies. It’s that feeling when all the elements that we need to include in the design so that a graphic solution has its purpose, and later fulfills its goal, fall into place. When we look at the solution later and feel butterflies in our stomach, then we know it’s well.

Unfortunately, there is no magic formula or recipe for good design. There is only an inner voice, which is a mix of experience, knowledge, empathy towards the client and his business, which tells us – It’s good!

Tanja Mosler