What makes a good design “good”?

How do you know it when you see it?

Should good design be judged on aesthetic principles, by the awards it has won, or should it be evaluated on how the market responds to it? Is good design only “good” if it’s effective?

What part does the vision of the designer play?  How important is or her background, training, experience?  Many people have access to the software programs designers work in, but few non-professionals are able to come up with a great piece of marketing communication. So what differentiates the “good” from the “bad” and the “ugly”?

Back when I was studying advertising design Art Center, one of my instructors taught us that good communication design needed to meet four criteria: it needed to be clear, honest, believable and memorable. The last one was where the tough part—the creativity–came in.

I polled a group of practicing designers and this is what they had to say about what they think makes good design:

Good design makes its message clear and memorable. This usually involves originality, intelligence, and grace. It often involves wit. ”

“It should make you think, feel, react, interact, and become remembered.”

Good design should invoke mood, emotion, feeling, understanding…”

“It should be about more than aesthetics…it is important to push the boundaries to get noticed, to leave a lasting impression.”

Good design sees a return for the client’s investment.”

Good design gets out of it’s own way.”

Which of these statements do you agree with?  What is it that you respond to when something is well-designed?  Please post your comments and keep the discussion flowing!

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