I’ve been in the graphic design arena for more than three decades now, and I’ve seen my share of myths and misconceptions in this field. Design plays a crucial role in the success of any business, small or large, but I often hear it dismissed as effortless or even unnecessary. Therefore, I wanted to share a designer’s perspective on the complex and meticulous process known as graphic design.
Misconception #1: Design is nothing but pretty pictures.
Making things pretty is a byproduct of design, not the actual act of design. Design in its essence is the act of solving visual and contextual problems for more effective communication of ideas and concepts. Designers have intimate knowledge of the psychology of engagement, and effectively use that to create visuals that will inspire a very specific response. Good design requires a certain level of organization and refinement of execution that ultimately will lead to pleasing aesthetics, but “adding aesthetics” isn’t a specific step in the process.
Design is more than just an artist moving images, shapes and text around on a page and assigning arbitrary colors to them. Next time you pick up a product and admire its packaging, or are impressed by an advertisement, keep in mind that designers have a refined sense of problem solving, and they go through a rigorous exploration of ideas based on extensive research and study of user interactions.
Misconception #2: Design is easy.
The process of design is a time-consuming and complex endeavor. It is similar to trying to write an article or an opinion piece in a newspaper. Before you start typing, you need to do your research and make sure your facts are correct. Then you have to form questions that you can then answer with the information you have gathered. After that, you have to figure out what voice you would like the article to be written in, so that you can elicit the proper response. And finally, you need to make sure you have done your due diligence to know what demographic you are writing for. All of this work and you haven’t even typed your first word yet. Yeah… it’s kind of like that.
It’s very easy to dismiss design as just the last step in the process of creating a business, but if Steve Jobs had the same attitude toward design, then Apple would not exist.
Misconception #3: Design is not important.
The biggest mistake any business can make is to dismiss the importance of design. Imagine that your business has the best functioning product, with the most features and the highest durability, but there is one caveat: it looks like a high school student made it in their basement. Now, say your competition’s product is not even close in terms of functionality and quality, but they have heavily invested in refining the look of their product and its marketing collateral to make sure that it looks like the best product out there in the market.
You can see where I’m going with this. Design matters more than you think. We are visual creatures. We consume with our eyes, so visual aesthetics affect our judgment. Invest in design before you start building your product or service, so that once you are ready to hit the market you already look like you have been there for years.
Misconception #4: Design is cheap.
These days any business owner can hire a freelancer from across the globe to design a brochure, a website or anything else they need for next to nothing. But is that wise? Can you really achieve the same caliber of work when you’re paying the least amount possible?
A single freelancer cannot come close to the combined intellectual capacity of an agency, no matter how good they are at their craft. By working with a design team, you will get a much more refined product at the end. Good, sound and effective design is not cheap because it is a collective effort that has gone through rigorous testing and quality control before it is even presented for the first time.
Misconception #5: Design is done by Photoshop.
Software manufacturers sometimes promote their products as artificial intelligences waiting for one’s command to design beautiful and fully functional products. If that were true, then why would we need design schools and people who spend a fortune to get a graphic design degree?
Software is nothing but a tool, and just like with any tool, the final result is not going to be optimal unless you have the skill, experience, and talent to use it. Does picking up a racket allow anyone to play at the same level as Roger Federer? Similarly, having Photoshop (or any other design software) is no match for the proper mindset and skills to create effective designs.
So next time you hear that someone just needs a “simple design” for something, remember that creating a truly effective design is a process that requires more than just Photoshop. Instead, consider working with an agency like Marstudio that has the talent and experience to create what your company needs to succeed.