What makes a great design? The answer can be pretty subjective! In today’s episode we talk about the importance of having strong design theory behind your creative work. We delve into how using strong design principles can help you to improve as a designer.



Show Notes for This Episode:

[1.00] What makes a good design?
[1.40] The basics of design theory vary across different areas of design
[2.15] The importance of considering audience, and adjusting design theory around this
[2.40] Lisa’s tips for the basics of good design (legibility, a focal point etc…)
[3.50] Manipulating the viewer’s eye, by being deliberate about your design
[4.20] Bad design often hasn’t led the viewer correctly
[4.50] Balancing design theory principles with your creativity
[5.50] Designers are essentially problem solvers
[6.45] Ian and Dustin enter the frame!
[7.40] Dustin discusses visual hierarchy
[8.00] Design being disruptive
[8.20] Why selling something helps you be a better designer (getting the user to do something)
[9.00] Looking at real world examples of design encouraging action
[10.00] The spectrum of complexity within design projects
[10.45] Ian learning from those on his team
[13.00] Branding guidelines being a great way to learn solid theory
[13.30] ‘Donkey work’ and layouting being great for picking up design theory
[15.00] Lisa’s first job creating magazine layouts, which taught balance, text placement etc…
[15.40] Ian advising that all designers should learn typography
[16.30] Dustin feeling paralysed by there being so many rules in design
[17.20] Great typography should often be invisible
[18.20] Looking at some successful design examples
[20.00] Context is everything for design
[20.30] Tom finding simpler design the hardest
[22.30] Try to do a simpler design than you’re used to, as this forces you to improve your theory
[22.45] The importance of alignment, colour balance, font combinations
[23.30] Copy great design, to help you to understand why it’s great
[24.40] Dustin’s example of how learning guitar is similar to learning design
[25.30] Aaron Draplin’s logo work is an example of effortlessly good theory
[27.00] Don’t be at the mercy of your application or resources (customise them!)
[29.30] Lisa actually preferred working on simpler designs
[30.00] Tom’s love of redesigns
[30.50] Ian’s pro tip for challenging your design skills
[32.00] Tom’s business idea (let us know in the comments if you want to see this happen!)
[33.30] Dustin offers source files with his products for this reason
[35.00] Aaron Draplin customising Helvetica
[37.20] You should look back on previous work and be seeing significant improvement


“A must for every creative freelancer (or those aspiring to freelance). Thank you for being so… honest! Such a wealth of information from people I admire who have ‘been there and done that’. Listening to the podcast every week feels like I’m among friends. Can’t wait for more episodes!”AG_GD