Good Design vs. Great Design


“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” – Steve Jobs

There are many witty quips out there praising the necessity of great design, whether it be print or product or user experience. Yes, there is a difference between good design and great design, and we need more of the great stuff, but what does that mean?

Simply stated, great design utilizes form to achieve function.

The natural follow-up question, then, is: what’s the function? That is where the conversation producing good design becomes the conversation that produces great design. What is your goal? Who are you targeting? Why is this new experience or product necessary? What’s the need and how are you satisfying it?

I start with a Steve Jobs quote because he was both correct and provocative. Yes, design steps beyond aesthetics. But his phrase “how it works” reveals how great design is rooted in engagement, not just abstraction. When evaluating how something works, like a smartphone app, one has to consider not only how the app runs, but how it might be used and by whom. Good design will produce a pretty interface with some fun features, but a great design will take that experience to a higher level of relevance and utility (we had to contend with big thumbs during our RallyTo project, for example). All of a sudden, that app will become your go-to for some function – you will use it frequently, easily, and continually. That’s what makes it great, that’s what makes it necessary.

About the Author

Jordan Griffith, one of Schoening Digital's original Project Coordinators, contributes posts about trends in web and marketing from her new teacher's desk, in a classroom in Seattle, Washington. She likes being utterly organized, making jewelry, and hanging with friends.

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