Myth #4: Design is about making a product look good

Many people regard product design as decoration; the art of making a website, a mobile app or any product look good. However, design is more about how something works rather than how it looks. Design is about both form and function. In contrast with art, good design is not only visually and emotionally appealing but is made for use.

The goal of design is to efficiently solve problems. Design is based on the understanding of how users see the world, how they think and behave. And the toolset of the designer is broader than just colors and font-styles, as it also includes user-research, prototyping, usability testing, and more.


How designers define design

  • “Good design, when it’s done well, becomes invisible. It’s only when it’s done poorly that we notice it. Think of it like a room’s air conditioning. We only notice it when it’s too hot, too cold, making too much noise, or the unit is dripping on us. Yet, if the air conditioning is perfect, nobody says anything and we focus, instead, on the task at hand.” – Luke Wroblewski
  • “Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose.” – Charles Eames
  • “What is design to me? Like design I think it’s best to break the problem up until you find the simplest solution.” – Paul Scrivens
  • “Design is not primarily supposed to entertain or to be nice or to aesthetically please. It’s supposed to perform.” – Oliver Reichenstein
  • “What designers do is to solve problems by deciding on the look and function of something. This can be writing text, laying out an interface, planning a chair, or coming up with a better Netflix envelope, lightbulb, or chair.” – Joshua Porter
  • “Right and wrong do not exist in graphic design. There is only effective and non-effective communication. Every one can complain about advertisements in the magazines, but clients are only interested in whether it attracts possible customers or not.” – Peter Bilak
  • “Design is directed toward human beings. To design is to solve human problems by identifying them and executing the best solution.” – Ivan Chermayeff
  • “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” – The indispensable quote from Steve Jobs
  • … for more similar quotes, see Luke Wroblewski’s site.