The PBS Off Book video, The Universal Arts of Graphic Design, does a nice job of explaining the ubiquitousness of design in our everyday lives. Graphic design encompasses so many forms, but essentially its goal is to communicate a message clearly and effectively.
Debbie Millman’s insight that graphic design requires someone who is very interested in human behavior — how they think and choose — is well said. Design is also very much about solving problems creatively. It often requires thinking from different perspectives to find the best solution and generating fresh ideas. (Edward de Bono’s book, Lateral Thinking, is a good resource.)
Graphic design is fun and challenging; and the skills learned are versatile enough to be used in other job functions. Strong communication skills are often needed in project management, while design thinking is helpful in creating effective learning programs. Basic design theory applies to all types of visual communications; anything as simple as writing an effective email to creating a PowerPoint presentation. Creative problem solving skills are needed especially when faced with limitations or restrictions that relate to budget, policy or resources.
Graphic design is more than just about making pretty pictures. It’s about really understanding what all the challenges are and how to go about solving them. It requires thinking from the user’s perspective and making their lives easier. Often times when the design is well done, it’s invisible to the user. In fact good design is expected. However, when it’s badly done, it’s hard not to notice and users will be turned off by it.
So the next time you’re ordering food from a menu or walking into a store because you saw the window displays, think about how the design may have influenced your decision!