March 3, 2023
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Of course you can create a something that is pretty, on-trend, gorgeous, elegant, aesthetic (…insert your preferred adjective here).
But there should always be a reason why. And it’s your job to articulate the why.
If you want to provide substance as a designer you need to communicate the ‘why’ behind all the design choices you make.
We know that aesthetics are super important and play a crucial role in the design solution. Of course they do.
A design that is visually appealing is naturally going to communicate better. It’s going to be more desirable and engage better with the audience.
But even from a purely aesthetic perspective, you can ask yourself why. It’s our job as designers to go below the surface.
We need to balance aesthetics with meaning, purpose and function. This is what makes for successful design.
There is always an underlying message or idea that designers need to pinpoint. It’s our job to communicate this.
Ask MANY questions.
It’s our belief that if you don’t have an opinion on an element within your solution, then—it has no place in your solution.
The same goes with research. Don’t populate a pinterest board with all the pretty things only. Ask yourself why it is there. Write a note. What is it about? Why are you including it? Does it belong there? Does it align to the client in some way? Which particular aspect is aligned?
If the pretty meets the goals and objectives of the brief, fabulous! Go for it.
If the pretty design does not hold up, can you still get away with it?
Possibly. There’s nothing stopping you from creating pretty designs all day long. People may still seek you out and use your services.
But solutions that aren’t objectively and strategically created aren’t likely to produce results and growth for the client. Lack of results = lack of repeat work.
We know that having repeat clients is an essential factor in having a successful design business.
If you want to charge premium prices, your work needs to have substance.
If you want to be seen as a credible, trusted and respected design professional, then you need to create more than surface level design solutions.
We did another episode all about designing with graphic design trends: 31 / Should you be designing with trends?
In that episode we talk about how fun it can be to design with trends, but use carefully. Again the same questions we asked before apply here. You’ve got to ask why.
Some other points to be mindful of are:
Once you get in the habit of explaining the ‘why’ behind your design solutions, you will train your brain to being a strategic thinker.
Your solutions will naturally get stronger and stronger with every design. More clever, more conceptual and more aligned.
With every aspect considered throughout your design process, you’ll be able to confidently ‘sell’ the concept to your client.
Your rationale will be water-tight. It will be in integrity. There will be no question. It will be undeniable. Your confidence will be unshakeable.
Sidenote: If you’re not doing written rationales, now is the time to start. It ensures everybody is on the same page and takes the subjectivity out of the design solution. It shows evidence of how the solution you have created is aligned to the goals, needs and values of your client.
We believe it’s so important to get this right we have a whole module dedicated to this in The Academy.
IMPORTANT: Meaningful, purposeful design also equals one concept presentations.
We can’t fathom how people can convincingly sell multiple concepts to a client within one timeline and a single budget. Our solutions require a deep discerning dive. To duplicate our creative process for 2 or 3 concepts would mean our process gets compromised and the solutions would be diluted. Worse still, we wouldn’t be making any profit.
We’ve spoken about this in a couple of episodes:
Episode 49: How to convince clients one concept is enough
Episode 8: How to present one concept with confidence
So beautiful designers, have fun with the pretty, but make sure you are clearly able to articulate the why behind your design.
For full transcript click here
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