The goal of design

Whether you’re creating a real estate brochure, building a web site or decorating a restaurant effective design is crucial.

I‚Äôm not talking about the kind of design that wins awards from other designers…but the kind that actually works.

Effective design should do one thing…remind people of the right things.

When you‚Äôre scanning your email you recognize spam before you read it.  Why?  Because it reminds you of spam.

When the Obama campaign decided it wanted to be historic, they didn‚Äôt run around saying, ‚ÄúThis campaign is historic.‚Äù  They started borrowing elements from historic documents and using them in their design.  And subconsciously millions of Americans started thinking, ‚ÄúThis campaign is historic‚Äù.

And it‚Äôs not just about look and feel.  In our Colorado mountain town we had a new restaurant open that couldn‚Äôt figure out who they were.  They always had classical music playing, used linen table cloths but they served ketchup in the little packets.  It just didn‚Äôt fit.  They had no idea what they were trying to remind people of and they lasted less than three months.

It doesn‚Äôt cost any more to have effective design than ineffective design. The important part is to figure out what it is you‚Äôre trying to remind people of and go do that. 


5 thoughts on “The goal of design

  1. wendy staas says:

    great blog!! Interesting that you write this as I have a meeting with a prospect tomorrow to be considered as his interior designer for his restaurant. Thank Jon!!

  2. Hi John. I am curious what in your definition are ‘right’ things.
    Philippe Starcks notion of design is that it can help human evolution. It can make the world a better place. He has a clear perspective on the future. Mayb the goal of design should be more that rememberance alone?

  3. Stefan,
    I agree. There’s potentially much more to design than being a reminder.
    However, in many cases where design doesn’t “work” it’s because it fails to remind people of the right things.
    The right things are the things you want people to think of when they look at your design. It’s up to you to figure out what those things are.
    That said, if you’re designing a menu for an upscale restaurant, you probably don’t want to remind people of a greasy spoon diner.

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