Defending Good Design

Design Culture and the Role of the Designer in Shaping the Future

Defending Good Design
Reading Time 5 min / Publish Date - 11.08.2023

As the agency's design director, I would like to share some of my thoughts on the role of designers in shaping the visual culture of society for a better future. I will also cover the fundamental principles of design, our role in advocating for good design, and the challenges we may face when trying to persuade customers.

We come across designs everywhere at any time. These designs affect our emotions, decisions, and behaviors moment by moment. First of all, I want to underline this. A good designer and good design are both rare. Rare is valuable. It is the responsibility of the design agency and us designers to protect what is valuable and prevent it from being devalued.

For example, good graphic design should be functional and aesthetic. It should offer some context or overlap. At the same time, it should be able to change perception and convey a message. It should be able to create emotion, be perceptible and understandable. It should carry the right mix of many such features in a balanced way according to the needs. When appropriate, he must convince his customers. That's a difficult subject.


People Don't Know What They Don't Know!

Sometimes in client meetings, some claim that they have a good eye (!), have a point of view in this field (mostly not), or have an artistic inclination. But mixing the concepts of art and design poses challenges for designers.

Contrary to the saying, “tastes and colors are indisputable”, these issues can be discussed comprehensively and rationally, because good design is actually made for the target audience rather than the customer's taste, but often despite the target audience.

"What would have happened if people without design expertise were asked for their opinions when creating the Apple logo?"

Their decisions would be influenced by their current logical situation, lacking the appropriate context or understanding. We, humans, make our decisions with our emotions, not rationally. However, when it comes time to explain, we often try to make rational explanations without even realizing it. We try to rationalize our decisions. Actually, we are not that logical.

Ask the audience, “Is this good?” when you ask, it is unlikely that you will receive an answer that has been properly filtered or based on the right emotional basis. For example, imagine asking people when designing the Apple logo. How many people could interpret that properly? Probably, if they asked the target audience, they would come up with different and complex things. On the day it was first designed, the Apple logo said, "Shit, it's so simple, why is there a bite?" Many people will say that today they love the simplicity of the Apple logo and the prestige it adds to the brand.


Responsibility to Create Good Design

"People are more used to bad design than good design. By experiencing bad design, their tendency to bad design is conditioned."
Paul Rand (designer of IBM, ABC and UPS logos and author of "A Designer's Art" and "Thoughts on Design")

For us designers, this issue poses a significant challenge. In addition to our responsibility to create good designs, we also need to educate society about the right designs. So as designers, we must understand the rational side of our work. Human perception, emotions, cognitive load and balanced and visually harmonious compositions, spaces, proportions, and more...

The correct use of all information and principles enables designs that convey messages effectively or make users comfortable. However, most of the time, customers don't have much idea about all the processes we went through during the creation process.

"It's the designer's job to do the job well and convince the client."
Michael Bierut (designer of the MasterCard logo)

Empathy and understanding are key when you come across customers who are used to bad design. As an active listener, sincerely try to understand their goals and challenges. Thus, building trust and laying the groundwork for a transparent dialogue. This way, guide them towards better design decisions. (This is hard sometimes, I know!)

Explain to your clients the basic principles of good design and how these principles will contribute to project success. At this point, make good use of perception, color psychology, neuromarketing, and other concepts. Emphasize the value of good design and, most importantly, the reasons for starting in your design. (If your starting point just looks good, come back and work again!) In addition, benefit from success stories that demonstrate the positive impact good design has on brands and businesses. Be sure to support your views with case studies.


Shaping Visual Culture and the Future

Sometimes even the best efforts fail to persuade customers. If that's the case, it's also important to consider whether it's worth continuing to study. If it's not worth it, I suggest you adopt a professional form of separation that will suit you. Offer alternative solutions if needed and ensure a smooth transition for the customer.

As I always say, good design requires a good client. It is very important that both parties are open and transparent and that there is no emotional baggage in between.

As designers, we have a unique opportunity to shape visual culture and influence the future. Our responsibility is to design works that not only look good but also contribute to society and have the power to transform in a good way. Thus, we can play an important role in shaping visual culture and the future.

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