Monday, March 27, 2006

Good Design Is Honest

What is honesty? It is more than telling the truth. It is more than just being consistent. It is integrity. It is being the same on the outside as you are on the inside.

If I tell the truth about some fact, I can do so to obscure my real motives, or tell it in a way that is intended to be a weapon. If I simply pursue consistency, I can become consistently hypocritical. I may have the appearance of honesty, but my attitudes are consistently unchanged.

But with integrity, I will make it my aim to live a life of consistent truth telling, from an internal and external perspective. I am not satisfied with looking good, or just being good in my own mind. I want something more. I want the freedom integrity affords. I have nothing to hide. I have nothing to prove. My work is to maintain what is right in my actions, in my thinking, in my goals, and in my desires. This attitude affects how I design, and what I look for in design.

Design can be successful even if it lacks a good message. It can be successful even if the message and the graphics are not in line with each other. It can even be successful if the content draws the reader to read, and the design breaks up the copy enough to keep the interest. It may even be able to win an award or two, just for visual style. But that does not mean that it is good (and definitely not great).

Good design takes into account the message, the audience, the messenger, and the medium when being constructed. Appropriate graphics and layout work together from all those factors. It is not just pretty decoration, but a well thought out plan of consistent truth, or integrity. In other words, a Gestalt experience. All the many factors, the visual pieces, the medium, and the message work together to make something entirely new. This new product is a greater message than each individual piece that make the whole, because they are meant to be together. They work together, but it can't be easily perceived as to why.

This is the 6th out of 11 articles discussing, in detail, each point in my philosophy of design. My philosophy is discussed in my previous post.


  1. Anonymous7:00 PM

    Wow! Great post and very inspirational! I had originally thought that, based on the title, you would be talking about honesty in the business of design but this is just as good.

  2. Thank you for your wonderful comments.


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