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1. Hello2. There is a lovely quote by Ms van Horne about the passion of cooking. I believethat this befits design too - design should be entered into with abandon, or not atall!3. Theres a reason our dear Gordon Ramsey, a 3 Michelin star chef, got so upset onhis TV series when celebrity guest Vic Reeves visited and asked the waiter if thechef could just do him a fried egg as he didnt fancy anything on the menu. Hescapable of so much more, and the customer blindly disregards his skill to dumb downhis potential. Great chefs, like great designers, are very passionate about whatthey do and sadly design is not often seen as the skilled talent it deserves to beknown as. Thats why theres often a sweary Gordon at the helm of a design team -passion.4. What is good design? What is bad design? What is design?So how do we know what should be known as good design? To help you understand theseconclusions, Ill take you through what bad design is first.5.Design is a relationship quote (Rand)One of the most renowned and respected graphic designers, Paul Rand, was oncepressed for a definitive meaning of design. Perceptions can vary and this oftenleads to basic miscommunication as to the meaning of the design process. Randdescribed design as the relationship between form and content. He refers to theclassic rule of design: Form Follows Function. This does not imply that form isof less importance than the function (and this applies to fashion, interior design,architecture, product design, graphic, web, everything) but that the form cannot bedecided without knowing the function. You must have a function, a point, a message- otherwise form is just wallpaper and has no purpose. Function without formdoesnt communicate and has no emotion, so doesnt attract interest. Both mustengage people to succeed as a design.It doesnt matter whether were talking about architecture, fashion, interiors,product or tattoo design, all is a relationship between the form and the content,but for the purposes of this short session Ill be dealing with graphic or visualcommunication design, which is the foundation of all communication design.6. What is design?Design is very often thought to be how something looks, or the aesthetics - this iscompletely wrong, and a vast underestimation of the design process. Whether itsgraphic design for a simple poster or the product design of a car, the looks areonly a part of the consideration and always should be the result of appropriateresearch and use. How something looks should go hand in hand with what its meantto do or communicate, and benefit what youre trying to do or say. Paul Randpointed out that design is not just visual communication, as graphic designerssaid our profession should be known, but that design often involves the invisible.Considerable work goes into the parts that customers often dont see, the research,the structure, the subtleties - and that is also design.Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, famously said "Design is not just what it looks like, andfeels like; design is how it works" and I think theres a key point there. Howsomething feels, and thus how it gets a response from someone using it, isdependent on the relationship between form and function. Design should prompt anemotional or physical response.7. What makes bad design?Bad design is not a matter of opinion - something either works or it doesnt,whether you like it is a matter of taste. Actual bad design is a failure in oneof the many design considerations in the process, or a failure to recognise thefunction and thus produce an effective product. Bad design can also be aninappropriate or misleading use of style or individual elements, which well go
into shortly. It can even be a result of trying to please everyone, often referredto as design by committee (which in case youre wondering is not a good thing)and something ending up homogenous and bland because you dont focus on what itneeds to do and say. If nobody hates it, nobody can love it as theres nothing tofeel (remember Steves quote earlier!).8. Bad design killsContrary to popular belief, something which regularly pops up on omg this is theugliest website in the world and bad design showcases, our local Lingscars.comis not actually BAD design. Of course its rather garish, and not the most elegantof aesthetics, but as we mentioned earlier aesthetics is not the sole purpose ofdesign! Whether you like how something looks or not is a matter of taste, and todesigners with a love of beautiful fonts and beautiful photography this is a bit ofan assault on the eyes - but this is the key. Its MEANT to be. Ling is known as aunique character, very animated and known for deliberately trying to stand out inher marketing, and her personality very much shines through in her product.Information on this site is actually key, the cars and product take centre stageand having used this for car quotes recently it is actually easy to find what youneed. So when the function and the message come through in a way thats appropriateto the company behind it, its not bad design. However this approach only worksin the aesthetic sense and it wouldnt stand out if everyone else did this - youcant be disorganised with your message, or have a lack of information, or poorcustomer service. Bad design in your customer experience is a different thingaltogether.9. Bad design, more killingAs I mentioned earlier, bad design can be the result of inappropriate usage, whichis usually an accident or a basic case of not doing your research properly. Incertain circumstances inappropriate logos could raise a bit of a laugh and not doyour brand any harm, but when were dealing with a childrens health centre logothat looks more than a little dodgy (Ill leave the innocent minds amongst you towork this one out!) it doesnt do too well with your customers. Some simple effortwith the logo design here would have remedied this if only theyd looked andchecked!Surrey Police here used the famously hated font Comic Sans for a poster dealingwith very emotionally sensitive material - this is inappropriate design. For one,the name of the font should have given a clue to the person setting the poster thatit did not fit the message or the seriousness it needed to portray - there isnothing comic-like bout this subject. Also, a childlike look in the design of thefont - which is primarily known for its over-usage in school newsletters and thelike - is not even comparable to a sexual assault message. Ill highlight in amoment just why typographic choices are important in a design process.10. So what makes good design?Good design, being a relationship between the form and the function, should use thenature of the medium as an advantage and not a restriction. e.g. the printingprocess brings countless options to a book or magazine design, and the internetbrings interactivity and varying screen sizes to a website. Nobody ever complainedthat books were different sizes, yet we constantly hear it on the web. Nobody evercomplained that books couldnt be made of cheese, we got on with creating beautifullayouts and technically superb prints for the materials they were made out of. Gooddesign uses the nature of the medium and its features, for good.Good design must answer a communication or physical need (for the purposes of thispresentation audience Im talking about graphic/communication design and notproduct/architecture or the like) and a person seeing, interacting with or usingthis communication will have an emotional or physical response. The content is WHYyour message is being designed, so this is what you must portray.An example here is the photographer Andrew Zuckerman. Here he highlights his latestbook Bird which is a collection of highly specialist and beautiful bird
photography. The communication is undeniable - its a photo of a bird. Its clean,just like his style and his books, and the navigation design is very simple andclean. Its a perfect example of the function working with the form to communicatewhat he does and what the product is.11/12. Critical ingredientsSo what are the critical ingredients for good design? Well there are far too manyto cover in detail for a half-hour talk, and this is why the design process is avery skilled undertaking when done properly, but Ill run through some key designtheory fundamentals which are important in the recipe for good and effectivedesign. Firstly, your most important tool is never, ever Photoshop (or the Mac, orany other item) - its your brain, the thinking throughout the ideas and solutionprocess, and also time. Design is often rushed or skimped upon in time and budgetbecause its not seen as being important - viewing design as just aesthetics leadspeople to believe design is the end of a process and not as important, which is nottrue. Good design takes time, and this leads to a quality solution.13. Critical ingredientsFirstly - research, research, research!! Research is the cornerstone to your designand any design process. It gives you the context, history and meaning to whatyoure working on. If you dont know WHY and you dont know WHO is going to use it,or what is already out there how can you begin to design? If you dont work out thecontext and always ask questions, youll never hit the right solution.Saarinen quoted that you should â Always design a thing by considering it in itslarger context. A chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, anenvironment in a city planâa which is key to all design elements. All things mustexist somewhere, and in some context. Your websites buttons are part of aninstruction, that instruction is part of a page, that page part of a section andthe section part of the site. The site will be used by a certain person for acertain need, in a certain context - these must all work together to benefit, whichcreates a good design relationship.Critical ingredients - a shopping list14. Personality - how do you want or need to be perceived? Is humour appropriate?If your company/brand/product/service was a person how would they act, what wouldthey enjoy and how would they be perceived? Identifying personality traits isessential. After all, Harrods clientele would not be looking for a Lings Cars wildand humorous personality when buying luxury and bespoke products, and Lingspersonality would not come across in a sedate and elegant Harrods-like aesthetictreatment.15. Space - known as white space its essential to a design to allow your braintime to process the information its communicating. If everything is crammedtogether it becomes difficult to separate content and thus to know whatsimportant. A cluttered design can also suggest being disorganised, desperation bythrowing all content at the customer at once, and lead to information overload. Aninterior designer wouldnt throw 300 chairs into your living room even though theycould fit - it would not be easy to use, it would create confusion. Good designallows space to perceive the information.16. Simplicity - a well known design rule is taught: take something away - if itworks without it, you didnt need it. Its a way of reducing clutter and ensuringa message is received clearly without distraction. Paul Rand went on to clarifythat less is more is slightly misleading, after all some designs are more complexthan others depending on the personality and style. He said just enough is more.Nike is known for their iconic logo, a simple tick. Their slogan and ethos wasjust do it, and the tick represented what they wanted to communicate, perfectly.Sometimes simplicity is perfect, just enough.Tiffany & Co are known for beautifully crafted, luxury jewellery items. They dont
communicate this with clutter and myriads of colour - theyre known for quality sothey let the products speak for themselves with clean, simple photography as thefocus.17. Relationship & proximity - related items, whether it be a logo, a website or asystem, are related in function for a reason. They should be close to one anotherand properly linked, as items close to one another are perceived by our brains tobe more related than ones further apart. This creates a single visual unit. iTunesinterface is used here as an example; the playback controls are grouped together atthe top as one visual unit with volume, which is functionally related to theplayback as a secondary action (you need the volume once youre playing a track,not before) nearby. The Library, Store and Playlist elements on the left grouptheir own sub-elements into 3 distinct groups of their own, but their proximity toone another allows the sidebar to also be perceived as an inter-related whole (i.e.they are all different collections of things).18. Colour - colour is a massive study on its own, but Ill briefly touch uponthis. Colour is deeply linked to human psychological response and is observablefrom our very early growth, so this can be used to trigger immediate associations(such as red for danger and green is OK). Remember these may differ fromculture to culture, as red in the Far East is known for being lucky! Colour canalso be used to show consistency in a design and to highlight actions or certaintypes of content. Here Barclays use a green login button to signify trust (as greenis known for go and ok with positive connotations) with their brand blue -which incidentally was chosen because blue is seen as trustworthy and a calm colour- used for all action buttons. This is immediately recognisable throughout theirwebsite that a blue button performs some kind of action.Consider other variants - in other cultures colours can mean different things, andalso colour blindness affecting roughly 20% of men genetically can be a majorfactor if your target audience are mostly male. Colour blindness testers areavailable online and in the printing process.19. Hierarchy - this is how you give perceived importance to elements in a layoutor structure. Not all elements are the most important - however, clients canwrongly claim this, as stakeholders will often want their particular departmentor feature to be noticed. Sorry, but not everything is your primary message soleave secondary content out of it otherwise everything in your design fights forattention and the message is lost! As shown here, Barclays give most prominence totheir main products (UX/user experience research can help determine exactly whatyour users need and want to find on the website, just as user research candetermine what customers make a beeline for in a supermarket layout). Barclays thengive less space and less highlighting to the secondary messages of ask a questionbut still feature them on the main page, with promotional offers towards thebottom.20. Type - this is where I break out the wooden spoon and hit people for usingBrush Script. There is no excuse, other than irony (and that is rare) for badfonts. There are hundreds of thousands of beautifully designed (that meansstructure and technical expertise as well as the aesthetics, remember) available sodo your research! Remember you need to communicate a personality, and the messageneeds to be communicated well, so a badly constructed font or a poor use of it candrag a design down quickly. Example here with a script font set in all caps - dontdo it. Also, fonts designed so they only work with a set amount of kerning (thespace between the letters) is a poor design in itself - choose a better font andset it well!21. Alignment - if elements randomly float around an area, be it a book cover or awebsite or a logo, they lose relationship to other elements and look unimportant or
unnecessary. Alignment is important to visually link information and create aunified design and message.23. Taste is subjectiveGood or bad design is not a matter of I like it or not. That is taste, and whileeveryones taste may be different, because good design is the solving of acommunication problem in response to a well-structured and researched brief, whenits successful and answers the brief that cannot be disputed. Form followsfunction, and where the form actually suits and communicates the personality andmessage of the function, it works.24. Its shit.Poorly constructed feedback does nothing and is the problem of the observer. If yousimply say something is shit, youre wrong unless you can define what is actuallythe problem and whats needed to solve it. Constructive feedback solves problemsand this is what the design process is about. Remember that you the client or youthe designer are most often NOT the target audience of whatevermessage/product/item youre communicating, so your personal taste doesnt factorin decision making. Client comments Ive received in the past such as oh my wifelikes blue so it has to be blue are rubbish, unrelated to the brief and will notimprove design. Again, pleasing everyone (such as the clients wife) is NOT theobjective of good design. Good critique is proper feedback on the message anddesign elements, or even acknowledging a failure in the brief or research, fromthose who understand the relationship of form and function. In other words, let thedesigner do their job to solve the communication need.Seek other designers opinions - as our host pointed out, he comes to me for designfeedback even though I shout at him for using bad fonts (honestly Im not thatmean). I will always be honest but never criticise taste - I respond withconstructive feedback to improve an issue, if one is needed.25. Pinch of salt.You may need this from time to time, for the occasional difficult brief orclient ;)Thank you for your time and for watching my presentation, I hope you found ituseful and once again thanks to all who gave very lovely feedback - if you need anydesign advice or solutions please contact me via http://twitter.com/minxlj or firstname.lastname@example.org