When Design is Everything

An example of web design, including specific theme, function, and purpose.
An example of web design, including specific theme, function, and purpose.

Our people are often asked, “What’s your design style?” We have many pat answers, including, “your style is our style,” and, “whatever you want it to be,” and my favorite, “crayons.” But the key point we try to make is: design is totally subjective, so the bottom line is that it had better work.

There’s no point to any design if it doesn’t accelerate an idea, a product, a service, or a person. There are plenty of designs that are drop-dead gorgeous, but ten minutes later, you can’t remember what the purpose of the design was – or what it was about. This is especially true for the Internet, as many print designers have stepped sideways into the World Wide Interweb (apologies) and their ideas are as 2-D (read flat) as a sheet of 110lb matte stock.

We design for results. That means we are concerned that our client’s requirements be met not only in the boardroom, where satisfaction has no relationship to market success, but in practice, too. If our client’s don’t see a spike in sales, or an increase in website visits, we haven’t done our job.

Many people think design is all about looks. It really isn’t. Design involves how things fit together. How things work. How easily they are understood. I’ve seen people take other people’s designs and stamp their own logo on top, giggling at how they were able to leverage someone else’s work product. While that’s certainly both lazy and unethical (without permission), it does speak to the potential effectiveness of the design.

Design should either be timeless or totally time-based. When was the Coca Cola logo invented? Who cares? It’s timeless. What about Google’s logo? It’s freakin’ ugly, but it’s also effective – and it speaks to a specific time – and it will likely evolve over time as well.

The timer on your grandparent’s VCR? Bad design.

The iPod. Great design.

No matter what the product, service, or purpose, good design isn’t good at all unless people react to it. We’re very sensitive to that issue – and it’s one reason we enjoy every new challenge we’re presented with. Have a design idea? Let us mull it over and give you some comps.

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