Elements of Great Design

Compelling stories begin with great design

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We admit it: We’re total geeks when it comes to great design. We not only think about design during working hours, but we spend our free time curating Pinterest boards and seeking out beautiful things.

We even dream in perfect color palettes (insert smug grin here).

We’re designers, so of course graphics, colors and fonts are a primary focus of our lives. Even if you aren’t a designer, however, you might be surprised at how much design informs and impacts your day-to-day existence. Think about the last article you read online: Did a compelling image encourage you to click that link? What about the last purchase you made: Did the signage or packaging help you choose one item over another?

What makes for great design?

Great design follows some basic principles. Ultimately, it helps tell a business’ or product’s story long before a potential customer ever reads your website or brochure. Well-known industrial designer Dieter Rams outlined some of those key elements.

According to Rams, good design:

  • Is innovative
  • Makes a product useful

  • Is aesthetic

  • Makes a product understandable

  • Is unobtrusive

  • Is honest

  • Is long-lasting

  • Is thorough down to the last detail

  • Is environmentally friendly

  • Is as little design as possible

Great design in practice

In short, design should be pleasing in and of itself, but it should not interfere with a user’s experience of your brand or product. Rather, it should bring your customer closer to your brand.

Rams’ last point, “good design is as little design as possible,” really brings that message home. Too much design means clutter. Clutter makes it difficult for your customer to grasp the product and the brand. Paring down the design to the most important message allows that core message to shine through loud and clear.

A lot of thought and planning goes into that simple, honest, unobtrusive design. From the psychological and cultural meanings of colors to compelling images, every choice either helps tell the story or detracts from it. Our job as designers is to strike that perfect balance for each of our clients.

Simple, but unique

While the elements of design apply to all businesses and products universally, each company has a completely unique story to tell. Your look and feel shouldn’t mimic your competitors, for example.

A strong design helps you stand out from the pack. It also helps your company embody its unique value proposition. By embracing what makes you different, you can begin to reach your customers in a whole new way.


We invite you to take a look at a few examples of our recent work to see what we mean. We specialize in helping multifamily properties find their unique identities, and we craft design stories to support them.