What Makes Great Design?

We’ve seen it all here. From design successes to design nightmares, and through all this we have learned that there are a few basic principals of design that really make the printed piece amazing. Dieter Rams, a German industrial designer working for international brands such as Braun, described 10 principals that can help guide you in creating a printed piece worth sharing with the world. When designing your next direct mail piece, packaging or promotional item, ask your self these 10 questions:

  1. Is it innovative? Not innovative for innovation’s sake, but innovative hand-in-hand with innovative technology. Are you incorporating QR Codes, landing pages, or augmented reality? Does it connect your end user with the brand through technology?
  2. Is it useful? You want your printed piece to be functional, but informational as well. Does it inform, educate, or generate a response from the end user? Does it connect the brand with the consumer? Does it serve the purpose it was designed for?
  3. Is it aesthetically pleasing? Your piece should be beautiful. Your intent is that it is used often, daily even, in interactions with new and potential customers.
  4. Is it understandable? Does the piece convey the message clearly and succinctly? Is it easy to understand its purpose and the audience it is meant to attract?
  5. Is it unobtrusive? A printed piece should attract attention, but in a good way. Is the design pleasing, interesting or engaging? Does it have an interactive component that brings the audience closer to the brand?
  6. Is it honest? There is nothing worse than a branded piece that contains empty promises. Does the messaging on the piece honestly convey what the brand can deliver? Does it live up to the brand standards?
  7. Is it long lasting? Good design is ageless and has a long shelf life. Create a piece that inspires and you will gain the attention of your end user.
  8. Is it detailed focused? Does the piece contain all the information necessary for the end user to clearly understand its purpose?
  9. Is it environmentally friendly? Does your piece fit in with the environment it will be in? Has the piece been designed appropriately to appeal to the target audience?
  10. Does it have as little design as possible? Forget the frills and excess. Design what is necessary to make a beautiful piece that is easy to understand and interact with. No more.

These ten design principles by Dieter Rams will help you to create the core of a great marketing piece, but what about the design itself? What elements are important to consider when designing a really great printed piece? Here are two infographics that address the Color Theory and Basic Elements of good design.