Why Do Some Designs Look So Awesome?

July 22, 2011

By Tad Fry

You know it when you see it… an excellent design glares at you while you try to figure out how the designer achieved their work. Your jealous rage continues to boil, and you’ve reached your tipping point. How in the world do some designs look so awesome? A few years ago, I found one of the answers to this question.

After making a lot of websites for small businesses during college, I felt something was missing from my designs. I couldn’t place what was wrong with them because my college coursework was communications and programming. None of my classes taught me how to be a designer; therefore, I thought it best to buy a design book. A search lead me to The Universal Principles of Design, which drastically improved my work.

With the knowledge of even a few design principles, I started to see why the designs I envied were so excellent. It was evident the designers used principles such as the Golden Ratio, Rule of Thirds, Accessibility, Chunking, and Constraint as a baseline to build on a strong foundation for their work. I wanted to know more, I had to know more. When I learned a new principle, I tried to find it within the work I loved. It’s a worthwhile and fun exercise to dissect designs to see which principles were used. You begin to see what works well, and gain a deeper appreciation of the designer’s style as you’re able to separate the design from style.

Are you asking yourself why some design work is so awesome? Are you having trouble with your next design? Then I highly recommend you learn a design principle and implement it. It’s refreshing, and you’ll gain more confidence as a designer when your decisions are backed by the principles that were here before you even thought about being a designer.