The Anatomy of Great Design: Part 01

By Nathan Moore
March 17, 2008

So, what truly separates great design with the not-so-great, wanna-be designs?

The anatomy of a great design starts with the audience, not the designer. The mistake that most young designers make is they forget the ultimate goal of their design - to communicate. Many times, ignoring the importance of communication hurts the effectiveness of the design, and thus, damages the integrity of the design.

The designer must be able to remove himself from the design and view it through the eyes of his audience. This process requires honesty and an attention to detail - if it brings the realization that the piece is not communicating effectively, then the design is flawed, and it should be changed. This is an extremely difficult step in design since it turns a critical eye on one’s own piece, but it is necessary.

The message does not simply consist of text and copy, it also is the mood and the tone. A dark background communicates differently than a white background. A textured element creates a different tone than a solid color. When the perspective switches from making art to encouraging the communication, the designer can begin to create great designs. There must be a distinct separation between the create process and the logic process, but both must harmonized together in a balanced act.

The key characteristic of a great design is that the audience does not notice the design; the design simply communicates the message without any barriers. If the information or message is hindered by the design, then the designer has not designed effectively. Any element that does not encourage the communication of the message, mood, or tone should be removed.  It becomes a consist editing process - validating the design at every stage in the process. Ultimately, if done well, this refining process will produce a great design.

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