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My Design Philosophy: Strategic Design

Graphic design is not an art. Despite what thousands of design school graduates have come to believe, design is about creating effective vehicles of communication that have a specific business purpose that will ultimately increase revenue or shareholder value. This is not to say that graphic design is not artistic. To deny the aesthetic properties of good design would be ridiculous, but to put art before business effectiveness (which many designers do) will result in a collection of pretty things that give little value to your clients.

I believe design is a craft, like cabinetmaking. Designers should be more artisans than artists. Cabinetmakers are rightly concerned with how their cabinets look, but the better ones are more aware of how well they function, the quality of the materials, and the needs of the clients. Even the aesthetics are tempered by how the finished product will fit into the structure where they are installed.

Designing a Web site or a pocket folder, or even a business telephone, works the same way. Who does the piece need to appeal to, and what specific action do I want them to take when they see it? How can I make it reflect the values and attributes the company wants to portray to that audience? How do I make sure that it remains relevant long enough to achieve its objective? Effectiveness. Consistency. Longevity. These are the issues a good designer, a good craftsman, will focus on.

Then, after the business considerations have been ironed out, I should say "how can I innovate?" I use my creativity and artistic talent to bring out the soul of the product with striking imagery and a sense of appropriate style. And the piece will be better for it. It will not only be attractive, it will help the client be more successful. Which in turn will make the designer more successful. Making the design both artful and functional can be part of the same process. And they should be.