Interview: The Difference Between Good Design & Great Design

Posted in: Innovation

You can’t deny the magical feeling you get when you see great design. Great design moves you, creates value and inspires action.

But the thing about great design is that it’s not easy to find... or create. So what makes design good vs. great? I chatted with Hello Innovation’s very own Director of Design, Vorrel Prendergast to find out.  Vorrel has been creating kick ass designs for over a decade for brands like Apple, Nike, HP, Best Buy, Budweiser, Nissan and many more.

Here’s Vorrel’s take creating design that moves you, and how he does it - from start to finish:


1. Starting a design can be a little intimidating. How do you avoid “designer’s block”?

A blank canvas is a very intimidating thing for me, so it always helps to start defining what I’m trying to accomplish and who it’s for. I’ve found that by totally immersing myself in the thoughts and needs of whatever I’m designing for, it makes it easier to tackle that blank canvas with new ideas.


2. During your design process, what questions do you ask yourself along the way?

When I’m designing something, I constantly ask myself questions like: What else can I explore? Have I gone too far? Have I gone far enough? Is this good... or is this great? I also like to get other people’s opinions along the way - not really for feedback, but just to gauge their reactions. If they don’t say “Wow, that’s f*cking cool” or “Whoa, that’s awful”, I know I have some work to do.


3. What do you believe are the fundamental principles of great design?

Again, this all goes back to who is it for and what are you trying to accomplish. Having those questions well defined will help you make informed and appropriate decisions on the minute things like color, typography, photography, spacing, proportions, etc. Then, the real difference between a good designer and a great designer is in their decision making once the foundation is set. How everything works together is a delicate balance.


4. Who are your favorite designers of all time?

I have a lot of people and things that inspire me - from graphic designers and illustrators to photographers and furniture makers. I tend to pull something from all of them, so I don’t really have any specific favorites. Really, anything that’s beautiful or moves me or inspires me and my work in some way.


5. What one piece of advice you would give to a new designer?

Never stop learning and never stop exploring.


6. What do you think makes a design bad?

A design isn’t successful when it doesn’t resonate with the intended user. Also, when it isn’t tasteful. You can teach people how to use tools and programs, but you can’t teach good taste.


What do you think is the difference between good and great design? Tell us in the comments below!


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