If the design passed the previous check points, you have already a really good design in front of you, this check point is what takes it from good to extraordinary.
4. IS IT FRICTIONLESS?
The more friction you add, the harder it is for them to get what they want from your design. Basically, friction is generated by things like text that is hard to read or a website that is difficult to use.
This might seem like an obvious mistake, but you would be surprised how many times designers end up sacrificing readability and usability to make their design “look better”.
It’s important to measure the amount of information that you want to present very carefully. Avoid information overload, that will only add friction to your design. For that, you really have to understand what your viewer/user needs, and in a lot of cases, you even have to distill that information and make it digestible.
For example, this paragraph can be expressed in a several quotes:
“A wealth of information leads to a poverty of attention.”
If the design is well done, it will become invisible and people will easily find what they need. If it’s not, then you’re most likely staring at a bad design, because good design is frictionless.
5. IS IT VISUALLY APPEALING?
Back into subjectivity land. This is the part that most people like to focus on, and the part that generates more discussions and controversy. This happens because it can be subjective at times and it’s hard to agree on something when all we have are opinions.
However, there is a way to break part of this subjectivity. You just need to learn the principles that make design visually appealing. These are the elements that you’ll find consistently across examples of good design.
Besides learning the theory, you should also enrich your visual culture. You can do that simply by looking at design that is featured by the design community in websites and books. If you do that, you’ll start to see the patterns that keep reappearing in good design like well-balanced compositions, beautiful typography, precise alignments, delightful colour combinations and many other things.
This should be enough to get you in a good path, nonetheless, in the end of the day, this check point will always be a bit subjective to go through, but since this is just one out of six, it shouldn’t disable you from distinguishing good design from bad. As It was said in the beginning, good design is not always beautiful to everyone.
The next check points is not only the check point but also the finishing line.
To reveal if a design has more than the sum of its parts you just need to look closely. Essentially this is when a design goes beyond a combination of good typography and colours, it’s when there’s a brilliant idea that supports everything and takes it to a whole new level.
FedEx logo (1994)
A simple yet perfect example of this is the FedEx logo, just take a close look at it. Between the E and the X you’ll notice a small arrow cleverly hidden in the negative space. This arrow is meant to symbolise the company’s accuracy and speed.
This is what differentiate good from great designers. Good designers will rely on their technical skills and base their design on principles (a machine could learn that by the way), but great designers bring more to the equation. I think that this is what creativity really is.
In a nutshell, good design has more than what meets the eye, it’s not only about how it looks, but a combination of a series of thoughtful decisions that are made with the end user/viewer in mind.
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