What separates a good design from a bad design? The answer lies in the goals of the designer!

The world of design contains a lot of subjectivity. Even if you ignore different tastes between individuals, you can have many experts that disagree over the exact feelings a color can convey or what characteristics a particular font may carry. Despite this, most people can (generally speaking, at least) determine a strong design from a weaker one. Why is that?

Well, that’s because good designs set out to accomplish a set of goals and meet or exceed them. Weaker designs tend to fall short of this or get their messages mixed. With this in mind, you may be asking yourself, “Why do so many good designs use similar motifs?” Well, the answer is pretty simple: most designs try to accomplish similar things. A designer’s most common goal is to send a message as fast and as clearly as possible while trying to stand out from other, competing messages. A professor of mine put this best when he said, “Design should be four things: big, bold, clear, and direct.”

This is why the planning and preparation phases of design are so important. If you go to battle without a strategy, you’ve lost before you’ve even taken a step. The same is true of design. Without a purpose, all you have is a hollow image. But if most designs are trying to accomplish more or less the same thing, then what is there to keep them different?

Well, just because an overarching goal is the same in the set of designs, an individual’s subjective opinions can influence the design, as well as smaller, more focused goals outside of generating exposure. Sometimes, designers need to know how to attract or dispel certain audiences. In branding especially, it’s important for designers to create and follow certain tones and visual motifs that will serve as a megaphone for a brand’s voice.

Design is hard. It takes careful foresight and decision-making, as well as a technical ability to execute these decisions. However, a solid plan is the backbone of every solid design. No matter how experienced you are working with the tools and programs at your disposal, you need a purpose for your design to drive your decision-making in the right direction.