Good design needs these qualities

These are important but didn’t fit anywhere else, so they get their own chapter.

Simplicity

I’m biased, but I believe simple design is best. Even if you often can’t design something simple because of reasons outside of your control, it’s important to know the importance and value of simple design. No—one has ever complained that something is too easy to use, or understand. People complain all the time that something is too complicated.

Timelessness

Some styles stand the test of time, and some don’t. I’ll write more about this in the next chapter, but it’s important that you start to appreciate which is which.

I won’t try to define timeless design. Instead, I’ll share with this quote from Massimo Vignelli.

We like the use of primary shapes and primary colors because their formal values are timeless … We like economy of design because it avoids wasteful exercises, it respects investment and lasts longer. We strive for a design that is centered on the message rather than visual titillation. We like design that is clear, simple, and enduring. And that is what timelessness means in design.

Variety

Often I have worked on a visual design, felt it was not quite right, and realised that I could massively improve it with a little variety. If you only use one typeface, for example, and it doesn’t look good to you, perhaps try to introduce a second typeface for headings or captions. If you use one colour for the page background, perhaps try to alternate background colours for each section.

Variety works well in visual design for the same reasons it does with food. If you ate your favourite food for every meal, you’d eventually crave something else. Visual variety means more interest and more engagement, and it doesn’t need to be a lot of variety. A little goes a long way.

Personality

There’s no doubt that one design can be more boring than another, even if both are good design. Generally this comes down to the personality of the design.

Personality in visual design is a big topic, but luckily I don’t have to cover it here, because I’ve written a short book about it. Take a look.

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