What Makes a Great Designer?

What Makes a Great Designer?

Art is considered a subjective medium. It comes from an honest place within the artists or designers mind that the consumer either likes or doesn’t. There really isn’t a scale for whether it is good or bad. But, there are some basic principles that all designers should have, especially if you want to be considered a great designer. The answer is much more than what is physically on the paper and more so about the feeling behind it.


Intention is key. “A great designer is the one that can answer the question ‘why’ for the designs that he/she produced at every stage of the design process” (Medium). What does the design mean? What problems or issues is it addressing? These questions should be answered before the actual design is put down on paper. Many of the iconic logos that we see everyday are abstract in nature but represent certain values that are true to the company. The Adidas symbol, for example, is simply three stripes that seem to be forming a triangle. We see the logo and immediately recognize it as Adidas but the simplistic design has a deeper meaning than what we perceive. At first, the three stripes represented the three land areas that Adidas shoes were sold: North America, Europe and Asia. As the company aged, the logo eventually transformed into the three striped triangle that we see today. The triangle is meant to resemble a mountain, representing the challenges that athletes go through to in their pursuit of excellence. The company knew what they wanted to represent and say and from there, could add the graphic element on top of that. The same goes for their current shoe competitor, Nike. Because the company was named after the goddess Nike, the symbol is meant to represent one of her wings. Both of these companies relied on intention instead of just picking a design that looked nice and had pretty colors.

The Process

With designers, ideas may come to mind in an instant and you just have to sketch it out, but going through the design process will ultimately help in the long run. Writing out words and preparing problem statements may not be your strong suit but it will help with fleshing out your sketch ideas. Certain words or phrases that are relative to the companies overall goals will contribute to how thought out and sincere your rough drafts will be. When you get to the presentation portion of the initial design brief, you should be able to answer the questions that will be posed by the company. One of the most obvious will be, “How did you come up with this design?”. If your answer is solely about pixels and the color wheel, then you have clearly missed the point. Make sure to respect the process and really research what their bottom line is as a company. Reading their mission statement will help, as well as, how the services that they are providing are helping solve a problem. That’s ultimately why a company exists in the first place. The connection between your design and the company should be clear but the finished product will, of course, be true to your aesthetics. That’s when the creativity comes into play. Everyone may research the company and come to the same conclusion of what needs to be represented, but how that information is transformed is completely objective. So, the beginning stages of the design process is what really separates good and bad designers.

Everything you do should be done with intention, and that includes things outside of design. What are you trying to say? Before you go for the pencil or computer programs, read and write the words that exemplify the design. Rushing through to get to the final product will mostly yield some not so great results. So, design with a purpose and then you can be considered great.