Elements of good design

Our firm is a branding agency, so my perspective on what signals good design is influenced by our work in defining, designing and developing brands and brand communications across industries and across media. However, I believe a few principles remain the same whether designing a car, a consumer product, an environment, print communications, a website or a logo.

Design must resonate. It must connect with both sides of the brain to be most effective. It must cause you to think and to feel.

I believe there are five basic principles that define good design:

Design should begin with a purpose.
It should be based on some intended meaning to make a connection. Designers do their best work when meaning is part of the equation, not just aesthetics.

Design should relate to its defined audience.
It’s about making connections — knowing what the audience needs or is looking for, and designing to that need.

Design should be compelling and engage the senses.
It should make a statement, be distinctive and occupy a place in the mind of the market.

Design is strongest when it’s based on simplicity.
Something complex is usually difficult to understand. It takes too much work and loses an opportunity to connect.

Design should cause a response.
If the above requirements are met, that’s usually the case. Design has the power to inform, persuade and define.

I believe design is good business. In a world where everything clamors for attention, design happens in subtle and powerful ways.

— John Thiel, principal and creative director, Thiel Design, Milwaukee

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