I was never a student of design nor destined to be one. Hadn’t it been for people who entrusted me with tasks that involved coming with ideas which required a keen understanding of design. Elements of user design has been my bible for understanding design and various intricacies involved in it.

So what is a good design? It’s tough to define a good design, but it’s easier to list down what goes into making a good design.

Good design needs to perform, convert, astonish, and fulfil its purpose. It can be something innovative or it might just get the job done.

What are the elements of a good design?

A good design solves a problem

This applies in particular for web designing as with every small iteration we aim to solve a finite problem that will help in achieving a certain goal. It’s critical to make sure that you don’t make the same mistake again.

Federal Highway Administration of United States of America allowed for individual states to start using a font named Clearview in place of its predecessor Highway Gothic to (according to the researchers and designers behind the new font) increase the legibility and recognition of road signs. The new font has now been accepted across the country as the standard for highway signs due to legibility tests and faster reaction times proven in studies that have been conducted.

A good design is about great aesthetics

Aesthetics is the human perception of beauty, including sight, sound, smell, touch, taste, and movement – not just visual appeal.

The chances are that you had already heard about this story before that Microsoft had invented tablets before Apple launched the iPad as a good example at aesthetics matter.

A good design is a good business

In 1956, Watson Jr. hired as the company’s design consultant Eliot Noyes, a well-respected architect and former curator of industrial design at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Noyes’s goal was to create a first-of-a-kind corporate design program that would encompass everything from IBM’s products to its buildings, logos and marketing materials.

The goal was much more than consistency of look and feel. It marked perhaps the first time in which a business organization itself — its management, operations, and culture, as well as its products and marketing — was conceived of as an intentionally created product of the imagination, as a work of art. “In a sense, a corporation should be like a good painting; everything visible should contribute to the correct total statement; nothing visible should detract,” Noyes wrote.

Thomas Watson Jr. told Wharton students in 1973 that good design is good business.

Design extends to every aspect of your organization and the values that matter to your brand.

A good design is about great user experience

Good design also seeks to improve customers experience. Better user-oriented design always adds to the intellectual and material value of the product or service.

Amazon patented 1-click checkout in 1997. Using 1-click checkout a customer could complete an E-commerce transaction with one-click using stored customer credentials to validate.

The result of this “innovation” helped the brand to achieve extremely high conversion from its existing clients. Since the client’s payment and shipping information is already stored on Amazon’s servers, it creates a checkout process that is virtually frictionless.

From a design perspective the innovation was born out of the understanding the issues that users faces in the multi-field (even multi-page) process that other sites provided to purchase.

A good design benefits the entire eco-system

Loren Brichter from Twitter developed ‘pull-to-refresh’ gesture now used by some of the most popular mobile applications.

Brichter was worried about rampant abuse of patents in the tech industry, particularly software patents. “I have plenty of feelings about the patent system and how broken it is,” he says. To alleviate those concerns, Twitter agreed to only use his patent defensively — the company wouldn’t sue other companies that were using pull-to-refresh in apps unless those companies sued first. That’s why Brichter had filed for the patent in the first place. “I realized that I’d invented something valuable and I could have a bullet in the chamber, god forbid.”

Brichter, however, feels that it’s high time his gesture evolves. “The fact that people still call it ‘pull-to-refresh’ bothers me — using it just for refreshing is limiting and makes it obsolete,” he says. “I like the idea of ‘pull-to-do-action.’”

Some in the industry still feel that ‘pull-to-refresh’ is an arbitrary feature as to why would you want to manually refresh for new content when it can be done automatically.

Whether you would use it or not ‘pull-to-refresh’ is an idea that’s here to stay, and developers can build on it as it is available to the entire eco-system to be experimented on.

The point of sharing this story is to say that good design seeks to make the industry better or do something better to make sure that the experience changes for the good.

Finally, like to end the article with Woody Allen quotes which say’s it all:

“If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you aren’t doing anything very innovative.” — Woody Allen