What makes Good design Good?

Written by Omar Mohammad|4 min read|

Design, as defined by Wells Riley, on his wonderful website that talks all about design, is nothing but a method of solving a problem.

Mr Riley argues that our approach towards design can be painfully superficial. In recent times, he and many other notable and well-respected designers in industry and academia have come out in public to denounce how little design has to do with how glossy that brand logo is, or how eye-catching that one-page website is, or how elegant that new type font is.

Now before we go any further I must mention that in this piece I’ve focused on Visual design in particular because it happens to be my field of interest, but what I am about to discuss below encompasses the entire spectrum of design and its multiple sub-disciplines.

Having said that, let me begin by asking a very fundamental yet often asked question: What is good design?

*chuckles quietly*

Yep. It’s difficult to define now, isn’t it? But give it a minute. Look around you.

Done already? Fine. You know what let’s look at this article of mine on this blog. Don’t you think it is well designed? How easy is it for you to read this absolutely wonderful gem of literature? Does the text here make you strain and squint your eyes every now and then and distract you from what this magnificent author is trying to convey?

Or does the design seemingly flow around the content effortlessly like a feather drifting aimlessly on the shoulders of a warm afternoon breeze?

Yep. That’s right. The best design you see, you cannot see. Good design, my dear friend is supposed to be notoriously invisible. That’s what makes it frigging good. Now repeat after me,

The best design you see, you cannot see.

Secondly, design, as defined by Mr Riley, is supposed to solve problems. Not intensify them. And that is why it is my opinion that there is no such thing as bad design. I believe that it’s not even fair to attribute the sacred term design, in any sense; to an entity when it fails to do what it’s supposed to do.

Am I being too harsh?

Everything on this planet has a purpose. Good design as understood by the best designer minds on this planet facilitates an object to fulfil its purpose.

That’s it. Easy peasy.

This is a blog. The Serif styled crystal clear font with the appropriate spacing between the words and the lines make it easy for us to read it. The design here does what it has to do. And it does so quietly without drawing your attention towards itself. This is a good design.

Good design is all about effective communication between the designer and the user. Good design is like that guy who speaks briskly but barely utters an audible phonetic. He sees with his eyes shut and hears with hands clasped around his ears. Good design can gobble up raw chilli and pepperika like a child gobbles up twisties. And when he touches us he touches the inside of our souls and makes flowers blossom and blooms all inside us, thereby resulting in the involuntary utterance of words of sheer delight and inexplicable joy.

Good design is never about what it looks like. It is about what it does.

FYI Medium does not pay me a cent to endorse them, but there is no denying that they give aspiring bloggers like me and inquisitive readers like you a rich and beautiful User-interface and User-Experience.

Normally to illustrate my point I would paste hyperlinks of badly designed stuff from all around the world. But I respect your intellect well enough to know that it is well within your capabilities to do your own research and observation. Trust me you’ll find lots of examples on the world wide web.

So next time you see that flashy multi-coloured Instagram logo, or that brand new portfolio website of your co-worker or that upcoming open house party flyer, ask your self that one question: Does it do what it’s supposed to do?

That’s all for now.