| Design Basics, Design Trends

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Nothing too complicated. Nothing fancy. Something simple, it shouldn’t cost too much.

These are remarks I’ve heard many times from people considering hiring me for design services. And they all seem to suggest that something that is simple is therefore easy and therefore shouldn’t cost a lot.

However, I’d argue that the cheapest design is all the stuff that falls in the middle. It’s not complicated, but it’s not simple either. It has the usual amount of fussiness and detail, and the usual amount of scale and proportion applied.

To do something simple and minimalist takes a certain design expertise (which you’ll pay for) and the ability to keep out all the extraneous details (which you’ve got to really be ready to embrace).

Some wonderful examples of minimalist design are many of Paul Rand’s logos:

Paul Rand's logos
Iconic logos by Paul Rand: ABC, IBM, and Westinghouse

Creating minimalist and simple design, is a skill that can separate a mediocre designer from the best. It’s that ability to strip a concept down to it’s essential meaning and simplest shape. Logos are the clearest example of this. But a great designer can help you follow this method by applying the same philosophy to your web site, your marketing materials, or your book cover.

I don’t want to compare myself to the legendary Paul Rand, but I do want to show that the ideals of minimalist design are alive in well even in this time period where swooshes, shadows, bevels and gradients seem to overpower too many design. Here are a few items from the Visible Logic portfolio to make my point.

Modern Epicure logo
Book cover design: BYOB Chicago

Next time you are looking for something simple, realize that you need to do two things:

  1. accept that some things will be “left out” of the design
  2. work with a highly skilled designer so that the end result is beautiful, minimalist design rather than boring, unfinished looking design.

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