What Design Is and Isn’t

Using “design” as a noun always sounds weird to me. As a verb I’m comfortable with it, but as a noun it feels wrong. Like saying “the data are clear” or “Apple are working on a new Mac”. Or those weird people who say “to-mah-toe”.

There’s also a lack of clarity. “Design” is different whether you’re an architect, fashion maven, or “new media” designer, of which there’s an endless number of niches. On any given day I could call myself a resume designer, web designer, graphic designer, logo designer, print designer, or icon designer.

There needs to be a clearer word for what “we”, as web/graphic/logo/print designers do. Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer. The closest I can get is “media design”, but that sounds dumb.

But what I do have an answer for is what this so-called media design can and can’t do.

  1. It can’t guarantee you a job, but can make you more appreciated. Just like we appreciate nicer cars and appliances, so to do employers appreciate a fresh resume that isn’t a template — whether they consciously acknowledge it or not.
  2. It can make your product or service more appealing, but a crap product is always a crap product at the end of the day.
  3. It can’t guarantee you anything, except knowing that you tried a little harder than most other people.

And that’s it. People come to me all the time looking to dress up what is, effectively, a bad product, to get it to sell. There is a word for that: swindling.

About the author

Justin Harter

Add Comment