I wrote this article a while ago but I decided to expand upon it and repost it. Enjoy!
When talking about design, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what makes a “good” design. Because every design is different and the nature of design is so subjective, it’s difficult to generalize what exactly makes a good design. I am going to try to explain it by going through the steps I take to create a design and what must be addressed at each point.
Before I begin a design, I first must understand my assignment and my client. What industry are they in? Who is the target audience of the design? What am I trying to convey? So to create a good design, it has to be relevant to the industry and audience you are trying to reach. You wouldn’t make a cute cartoon logo for a government agency, would you? So first and foremost, a good design is styled to fit the industry in which my client is based and the potential audience in which the client is trying to reach.
The next thing I work on is originality. This takes research. And I mean lots of research. A designer must understand her client completely, inside and out, their goals, their mission, their message, along with the product being promoted and the industry in which it belongs to. I research other competitors in the business of my client and what designs they use, including the fonts, images, illustrations, colors and slogans. I don’t want to copy them so it’s important to know what is out there. But I don’t want to deviate too much from the general design style the overall industry uses. It must be similar yet unique to stand out among competitors. A good design captures the essence of the industry with an emphasis on the company in a new and novel way.
After all the research comes the initial creation of the design. A good design is always executed immaculately. Especially when talking about logo design, the image must be drawn perfectly and must use a carefully picked color palette. You wouldn’t want the concept of the design to be amazing but the execution shoddy, right? So just as important as the concept is the execution. This is where an understanding of the fine arts comes in handy, like color theory, illustration, and composition. The design doesn’t become amazing until many, many drafts have been made. This is where the real magic happens and it comes from the team effort of the designer working alongside her client.
For demonstration, I created this logo for an imaginary museum, The Gates Museum of Art & Design. This is a good example of a logo design that incorporates all of the elements for a good design. First I must identify my objective and audience. To promote a museum, you want it to be edgy and contemporary in style but also elegant and sophisticated to attract the museum clientele.
My audience is artists, art enthusiasts and designers, along with the general public, so the logo must be eye catching and artistic, as well as completely original and simple. Because my logo must convey art in a generic way, not just painting or sculpture or design but all of these combined, the design needs to be a generalization of all art forms. So I decided to use simple forms to convey the object of “art” along with a modern color scheme of grey and cyan. The design works by combining these elements in a complex composition, thus capturing a contemporary and avant-garde impression of the discipline of art. The shapes portray a stylized art exhibition without being specific to any artists or discipline, yet capturing the museum experience of seeing an exhibit. The font is also crucial to its success. I used a very modern, thin font to express the elegance of art and design. Because I have thought out every aspect of this design from inception to execution, it works. It succeeds because it’s original, caters to the art community, portrays a stylized art exhibition, is executed with precision and is simple in design.
Last but not least, a designer who works closely with her client creates a good design. The designer and her client as a team create the final design and without cooperation between the two, a design will never become great. The designer must listen carefully to her client and what they need to fully express the message. But when it comes to the creation of the design, the client must leave the artistic elements to the designer. There must be a give and take between the two entities to bring the art and the idea together into one amazing design.
In conclusion, a good design is created from an understanding of the message being communicated, the audience trying to be reached, originality of concept, excellent execution, and complete cooperation between the artist and the client. Every good design has clearly thought out each of these points and rolled them together to create a design that captures the audience, as well as the message, perfectly.