Judging design subjectively

First: opinions are irrelevant. Our own opinions on design should not matter, we are not designing for ourselves. Nor are we in fact designing directly for the client, our design is always meant for a specific target: The Client’s Client, The Recipient, or The User.

Second, the objective of graphic design – in fact, of any visual communication – is not merely to make people like the design. We are trying to communicate, not simply decorate and make things pretty. Our objective is typically to make the target audience feel something, understand something, or do something very specific. 

Third, there is always a purpose for design, beyond pleasing ourselves or even our clients – beyond just making things look good. Design needs to communicate to serve that purpose. If design happens to be aesthetically pleasing, that is just a bonus, not a goal in itself. In fact, aesthetics can sometimes even be an obstacle, drawing attention to itself when focus should be on the message the design is intended to convey.

Design should be judged objectively, with the ultimate purpose as a yardstick.

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