Design – The Imperfect Math - Radiant

The Radiant Blog

I recognize that I often write about design and some of the pitfalls found there-in. I do so with the intent of leaving signs behind that warn you of those pitfalls so that you might avoid falling into them yourselves.

As I have grown and experienced more through my career, maturing along the way with every project, I have arrived in a place where I believe I really understand the design side of the business. I can summarize it with the the following statement; Design is an imperfect math.

While every attempt is made to be strategic about design, certain decisions are made by the designer which are purely instinctive and birthed from the indescribable artistic gift they posses. To say it in another way, while the majority of design decisions are strategic, the rest of design is artistic.

The definition of art is: the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.

We all know art is open to critique and people's individual opinions and tastes. So if someone designs a great website for you, but you're not sure about the background color or some other element, remember that they have made some instinctive decisions and may not be able to rationalize their choice like answering the question 2+2 with an answer of 4. Art is an imperfect math because there are literally infinite solutions to every problem. For designers that is the greatest strength and weakness of the profession.

Design really requires a level of trust between client and designer. I think thats why sometimes in my career I have taken critique hard, because it feels like I am not being trusted. I have gotten better with that over time but I know it is a struggle for all designers, at least all of the designers I have ever known.

I think an important thing to remember is that if you have hired a designer or an agency it is because you recognize the need to pay someone else for the use of their skills which you may not posses yourself. So take the time to seek out someone you can trust and work on building a relationship with that principle in mind.

Lastly, let me be clear. You always have the right to speak your mind and ask questions of your designer or agency. The point of this post was to communicate that some questions are harder to answer than others and that any design could be changed to something else when being subjected to enough criticism or opinions. I wonder what Leonardo da Vinci would say if he were asked why Mona Lisa was painted as a brunette and not a blonde?