Learn why good design looks good

Some designers won’t admit this, but there are reasons that visual design looks good.

Designers are happy to talk about how design “feels”. And it’s important to rely on how you feel. But you can learn more about why it feels good. You can speak about these reasons with other designers. You can pass them on to new designers.

Paul Amat wrote the best article I’ve seen about why design looks good. I recommend you read it, instead of this chapter. But it’s a long article, so I’ll summarise and paraphrase the reasons here.

Visual design might be good if it…

  1. Stimulates the senses
  2. Gives you sensorial pleasure
  3. Simulates reality well
  4. Eases perception and understanding
  5. Provides colours from around the colour circle which helps our brain process colours
  6. Uses bright colours
  7. Fades into the background as the user works
  8. Uses three dimensions
  9. Is minimal
  10. Is ergonomically comfortable
  11. Is ethically designed
  12. Demonstrates high skill levels
  13. Follows internal rules
  14. Has uniform elements
  15. Uses the golden ratio
  16. Is full of meaning
  17. Is based on a physical metaphor
  18. Uses colour to communicate information
  19. Is designed to suit some useful purpose
  20. Uses colours and shapes that suit each other
  21. Matches a prototype in the user’s head
  22. Has a unique visual identity
  23. Has a novel visual identity
  24. Matches a functional trend
  25. Matches a non-functional trend
  26. Meets social or group standards
  27. Obeys visual design rules
  28. Meets the expectations of the user’s culture
  29. Expresses an emotion
  30. Suits the user’s personality profile

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