Chapter 2: The Purpose of Design
Design is the manifestation of many different “layers” that make up a product. So, something that might just appear attractive or pretty isn’t necessarily going to be a “good” design. Good design is sensitive to these many layers that influence the final design of a product. What is often misunderstood as design – things such as the pattern of a fabric, or even the graphic styling of a button on a website – don’t come close to encompassing the definition of design. Visual characteristics are certainly components of design, but they are products of many factors.
The bounds between design and other related disciplines are fuzzy, but for the purposes of this book, I’ll be talking primarily about visual design. Visual design concerns itself with the visual look – or the “beauty” – of a product. Visual design, as the name implies, is mostly associated with things that you see, such as the arrangement of design elements, the look of typography, or the choice of colors, but these things are all affected by some pretty concrete things, such as product goals, culture, or technology.
I’ll be talking about all of these factors in greater detail later in the book. In Chapters 3 and 4, I’ll explain how culture and technology have influenced, throughout history, the shapes of typography and design. In Chapters 5 and 6, I’ll explain how hidden geometric and compositional forces create a sense of order and visual interest in a piece of design. In Chapter 7, I’ll ...