Designers Do More Than Make Things Pretty
As a creative professional, I’m always worried about how my compositions visually look. This expression and concern remain at the core of a designer’s perceived expectations of what they bring to the table. But what if I told you how things look aesthetically are not necessarily what effective designers focus on addressing?
From my professional experience, there is a disconnect between the perceived responsibilities of designers and what we fundamentally do every day. To some, it may seem like we make things look pretty. And other times, we have to be nothing short of mind readers. The reality is our jobs are much more profound and complicated than just producing visually pleasing compositions.
Is Design That Important?
Good design is difficult to quantify. It’s not something easily measurable or objective, especially when compared to areas such as digital marketing and sales. I write about this in my articles, The Hard Truth of Being a Creative Professional, and The Death of Graphic Design.
The human brain can subconsciously determine what good design is without knowing anything about the compositional structure. This active response is the same reason certain types of music and art resonate with us. Trained designers understand this and wield its power like Luke Skywalker and his lightsaber. We organize information in the most effective way to maximize the sub-conscience perception of compositions to present a particular idea or message.
So, in theory, design done correctly can effectively increase ROI (Return on Investment). The key here is communication between the business and the designer. A good designer will be in alignment with the goals and work harmoniously to achieve the mission. Designers at their core are problem solvers.
How Designers Can Better Convey Their Role
To some degree, designers intuitively produce what marketing professionals and UX (User Experience) designers provide. We use experience, intuition, and training to present the best possible results to achieve the same goals. And just like any marketing or UX model, a strong foundation and solid direction is key to success.
I can’t tell you how often I’ve received lousy ideas I’m tasked with making look beautiful. No matter how good a designer is, a terrible idea fails regardless of pleasant aesthetics. In some cases, the designer may be to blame for the poor outcomes, instead of the business criticizing the inadequate research and preparation of the original plan.
Some businesses believe designers have no place at the decision-making table. After all, what do they know about business tactics and strategies? To that, I say these businesses are losing out on a valuable perspective that could add to a companies procedures, ideas, and yes, bottom line.
A skilled designer will ask fundamental business questions about every project they’re responsible for developing. They understand the goals for the client, business, and user, which contributes to their broad strategic commitment and insight.
The best way for designers to be taken seriously is to establish themselves as a necessary piece of the business strategy. This approach means taking part in broader conversations about essential business goals. And to do that, they must ask the proper questions. I speak more about this in my article Climbing the Creative Ladder by Doing What I Hate — Talking to People.
It’s challenging to develop a purposeful and functional design without understanding what you’re creating and why you are designing it. Every decision a designer makes has some underlying goal. Decisions about color, font, and hierarchy are never random or personal.
Every employee’s role in a business has a quantifiable value. Design happens one of the most difficult to explain and rationalize through objective descriptions. However, this vagueness does not mean it is less significant. It’s essential to realize design is not solely about appearance. Recognizing the designer’s focus on various areas besides aesthetics will ensure a more proactive relationship with their abilities and the business. And it will solidify their importance at the decision-making table.
If you liked this article, check out some of my others at Medium.com/@micbuckcreative