What is a good design?

Art is subjective – what might be pleasing to the eyes for one, could be annoying for another. It is absolutely up to the viewer to judge whether a piece of art has merit or not. Quite often in the design world, a question props up – “Is this a good design”? A question often asked in retrospection and self doubt, albeit a straight forward question, yet there are so many layers of answers to this.


So what exactly makes a good design? What is it about certain designs that they manage to win millions of hearts and inspire people? What differentiates a good design from a bad one?  If you often get lost amidst such questions, go on further, as this blog is aimed to unravel the secrets behind what exactly makes a design stand out…

To put it simply, a good design is a combination of various elements, each having their own quality, put together to create a harmony – from colors to textures, from lines to letters, from sizes to spaces, these elements are the building blocks to form a piece of art. People often attribute good designs to vivid imagination, intensive brainstorming of ideas, however, the truth lies in simplicity before anything else. A good design has to tell a story, it should be strong enough to move people and it should speak volumes, without even saying a word.

“Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication”

– Leonardo Da Vinci

Have you ever used a product which made you admire its beauty in awe? It is safe to assume that not only did the product was pleasant to the eyes, it also performed great too. Take for example – Apple. The modern day standard of eye catching consumer products which are a perfect amalgamation of sense and simplicity. Not only do they stand the test of time when it comes to benchmarks and real world usage, they also are eye catching and carry a mass appeal with themselves. So much so, they are the most sought after products when it comes to flaunting in front of the world around you.

“Design is not just what it looks and feels like. It is about how it works”

– Steve Jobs

Whether you are a design student, an amateur, a professional or a hobbyist, keep in mind the ten commandments of a good design as laid out by German product designer Dieter Rams who was responsible for designing the consumer products of Braun. This list lays down key points which are valuable guidelines for anyone who designs. According to Rams, the ten principles to a good design are :

  1. Good Design is Innovative – Good design does not copy existing products nor does it imitates existing norms. Innovation is the key to capture hearts and infuse confidence in your design.
  2. Good Design is Useful – What’s the point of designing something if no one wants to use it. A good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product, while disregarding anything that distracts from it.
  3. Good Design is Aesthetic – A design must reflect aesthetic sense in all forms. It is crucial to the usefulness of a product as they are used everyday. An aesthetic design affects our well being.
  4. Good Design makes a product Understandeable – What makes a design stand out is its ability to say about itself without having the user to comprehend it. Every product should be self explanatory, clearly expressing its form and functions.
  5. Good Design is Unobtrusive – Products are like tools. They are neither decorative objects, nor work of art. A good design must tread the thin line between being neutral and restraining – to leave room for the user’s self expression.
  6. Good Design is Honest – It does not make a product more innovative, useful or powerful than it really is. A good design does not lies, nor does it attempts to manipulate the user with promises that cannot be kept.
  7. Good Design is Long Lasting – it avoids being fashionable therefore never appears antiquated. Good design doesn’t date, it stands the test of time and is forever.
  8. Good Design is Details – It’s all in the little details. Paying attention to the smallest of details can transcend a ‘medicore’ design into something truly remarkable. Nothing must be arbitary or left to chance. Caring about the details is caring about the user.
  9. Good Design is Environment Friendly – What’s the point of designing something if it’s environmentally irresponsible and makes you feel guilty.  A good design conserves energy and minimizes physical and visual pollution throughout its lifecycle.
  10. Good Design is Minimalistic – Less is More, is a phrase designers often come across. A good design has everything that is necessary to make it harmonius. Concentrate only on the essentials, and let the complexity shine through simplicity. Back to purity, back to simplicity.

rams - Copy

Whatever you might be designing for, good design is making something memorable and meaningful. Your art should reflect your character, it should reflect your hopes towards creating something better than what is already existing and most importantly, it should mirror your inner voice which wants to contribute and create something exceptional.

“We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, but to create something that will.”

This blog post is in association with Photo Influenza





Author: sharmandbharat

is in that space between music and silence.

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