When you look around at our everyday infrastructure, supermarket shelves, even our homes, there is still a great deal of boring design. So much so that we have become used to it. There are entire product lines where competitors have little point of difference, but the business reviews often fail to cover the design process and think about how changing the way a product looks could actually sway someone to buy.
At the same time, there are many product lines where this is their only point of difference. Entire business models have been set up around company tone of voice and product design, and continue to thrive as a result.
How the consumer feels about and interacts with your product and service is fundamental. Much like the importance of UX in website design, general design with your target audience in mind can have a huge impact on sales and brand longevity.
Architecture and infrastructure is an obvious example. Local communities have been commissioning artists for years and there are plenty of examples of plain buildings made beautiful by the work of an artist and mural.
But where design really comes into its own is where the practicalities of the object or subject itself is really thought about. Take warehouses for example, as a local Oxford marketing agency, Milton Keynes stands out as a great example of where design can work with the subject and environment.
The town’s Magna Park distribution site could be very ugly. It is the home of warehouses that cover some 12 football pitches in size. However, their design is unobtrusive, fading from dark blue to an off-white that is rarely out of place with Britain’s changing sky.
Architecture stands as a great example of how good design can either stand out and attract attention or fade into the background, dependent on your business needs and objectives.
The same rules apply online. The internet has given us an immense space within which to design and create and while there are plenty of examples of boring web design there are some truly exceptional examples of making the boring beautiful as well.
As the digital space becomes ever more competitive, digital designers have to up their game to create something that really stands out, and their job is made harder still should the subject matter fail to inspire. Good website design is one aspect that should be truly celebrated and there are many great examples.
The History of Climate Change is a beautiful example of parallax web design that is well thought out and makes a potential dry subject come alive through great design, gaining PR coverage and engagement along the way.
Just as the climate change website made information beautiful, it wasn’t too long ago that Facebook made function beautiful with their Messenger Code. The concept was essentially plagiarising, after all Snapchat had already come up with a very similar feature, but Facebook made it such a way that it was more visually appealing, which then has a profound impact on its uptake.
Apps are another area where good design is fundamental to their success and no one knows design better than Pantone. The Pantone Studio app had to stand out, as an app aimed at designers it had to make a point. And point made.
When product design is clever or beautiful, or both, it can make a product. There’s a common misconception that beautiful design has to be elaborate but in actual fact some of the simplest designs work best, so long as they fit the product and its audience.
Lovell’s Lager, as shown in this article, is a brilliant example of clever design. Its simple packaging is based solely on the idea of what you do with it. How you carry a crate of beer inspired the design, not the other way around, and that is what makes it great.
Similarly, British Airways saw an opportunity to create something beautifully different with their tail fins between 1997-2001. Not everyone was a fan and even then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher voiced her disapproval, but it certainly went further than expected in terms of brand promotion and the artwork was said to have been well-received by many of BA’s regular international flyers.
Infographics and parallax content stand as a testament to the importance of design. Their sole job is to take something (potentially!) boring and make it beautiful and engaging. It is to gain attention from the audience or consumer and that is what marketing does.
Take something you want to communicate and communicate it in such a way that your audience has to listen. Appeal to their senses.