There are plenty of design myths around. Some are good, some not so much. So, I thought I would debunk some of the worst ones because letting them lie is pretty damaging to the industry and individual designers. So here we go…
THE CLIENT ALWAYS KNOWS BEST
Clients give briefs and designers work to them. That’s the usual process. Sometimes it goes smoothly, sometimes it doesn’t. While designers are expected to keep their clients happy, they are also expected to produce the best work they can. Sometimes that means recommending something that isn’t what the client has in mind. Designers, to varying degrees, are experts in their field, and will more often than not have more experience in design than their client. And so sometimes the designer knows best, they know what will work and what things won’t and sometimes the client needs to trust in those recommendations and that they’ve hired the right person for the job. Sometimes, as Clients from Hell has shown us, they are just plain wrong as well.
DESIGN IS JUST MAKING THINGS PRETTY
It’s not. As I discussed in my post about design thinking, design is a process, not just an outcome. It’s quintessentially about making things that work, quite often those things are attractive but that isn’t their only function. Steve Jobs once said, “design is not just what it looks and feels like, it’s how it works” and while he might not be a designer I think he really hits the nail on the head. In order to make something that works a designer has to understand the user and their needs and be able to work to fulfil them. Design isn’t just making things pretty it’s understanding what people need and making their lives easier, no matter what you’re creating.
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW IS PHOTOSHOP
Just as design isn’t just making things pretty, photoshop isn’t the only skill a designer needs. There are a whole wealth of technical skills you need from sketching to an understanding of typography to working with vectors. But more than that you need to know how to be empathetic, to understand both a client’s needs and a user’s needs and balance those things. You need to be able to work to a brief and know when you can push it. You need to understand all of the basics from composition to hierarchy and how to make them work seamlessly. If you freelance you need to know how to be an entrepreneur, how to manage a customer. I’m not listing all of these things to put anyone off learning to be a designer, but to explain to those customers out there who think that when they’re hiring a photoshop monkey they’re getting so much more that they don’t see, and that skill set deserves respect.
CREATIVITY IS AN INNATE TALENT
It always makes me really sad when people say they’re not creative, or when, on learning I design in my spare time, people say I didn’t realise you were a creative person. Everyone is creative. Everyone has an imagination. It’s not some special power some people are born with. Sure, we all channel our creativity differently, but it’s always there. On the flip side of that, the suggestion that creativity is innate does a disservice to the amount of work that goes into harnessing and utilising your creativity. Creativity’s not a thing you have, it’s a muscle you have to work.
A LOGO IS ALWAYS THE ANSWER
I’m not sure if this is a common enough misconception to be a myth, but the number of times I’ve heard people say they just need a logo is staggering. Repeat after me a logo is not a brand. Logos are great, they can be little visualisations of your brand they can be printed on anything and everything, they can even become icons. But they’re not all you need to make a brand. A brand is all of the decisions that go into the identity of your business, its character, its products, how it speaks, what it represents and, yes, how it looks. A logo is one little part of that how it looks element. The other bits of the visual element include deciding the fonts and colours you’re going to use, the kinds of images that will represent your brand, even tiny things like the way pages on your website are structured. Yes, logos are great but they’re only a tiny part of a big old brand puzzle that will evolve over time. A logo on its own is not the answer to your branding woes.
DESIGNERS ARE ALL HIPSTERS
There seems to be an idea out there that all designers dress and look alike. Yeah, that’s not true. Designing is a job. Like any other job anyone, no matter where they come from, look like, or listen to, can do it. The more we encourage diversity in the industry the stronger and more interesting it will be. That’s all I have to say.
YOU CAN GET GOOD DESIGN ONLINE FOR FREE
No no no no no no no. One of the auto-fill options on google for “logo design…” is “free” – how terrifying is that? Good design comes from good designers, and good designers like all other human beings need to eat and somewhere to sleep, and so they need to be paid for their work. It’s really quite that simple. If you want design that resonates with your customers, with your brand, with your vision, if you want quality work, if you want a good working relationship, if you want to be challenged to make something really great you need to pay because it’s right and because someone who can offer you all of those things has spent years studying and practising and you need to respect that. Pay designers fairly.
Which design myths really get your goat?