Little offers more objection for critique than a blank page, for the moment you begin to populate it does that first line, shape, word become the focus of attention and scrutiny. It’s no wonder that designers have inherited a reputation for being overtly critical when every action taken on their on empty pages is assaulted by an internal monologue of justification and elimination.
So how do you advocate the surviving marques, scribbles and pixels? The word ‘credible’ has ingrained itself within my vocabulary this past year. A beautifully apt word, principally evaluated by two components; the objective and the subjective.
When judging a piece of design, we can draw upon a myriad of objective criteria and these can change pending from whose shoes we’re striding in. With a penchant for rules, the educated designer will have read a library of literature detailing proportion, hierarchy, grids, alignment, contrast, colour theory and common sense – knowing when they approach a blank page they can look to their regulation toolbox of law and order.
We could analyse from the ideological standpoint of looking for something unique and individual. While there is a logical, objective rationale that could state if something is unique it’ll stand out – some pieces of design may want to appear similar (see our Copycat thought). As a result though, the design will lose integrity – a component based on honesty and trustworthiness, paragons of the subjective component.
This originality can be seen across the Twitterverse with brands responding within minutes of notable events, aiming to be first with the most creative, original idea. Other times, a brand can come in later with a similar idea but execute it more effectively. An important distinction, as some aspects of credibility can outweigh others.
Taste, or rather ‘good taste’ could be seen as the most influential subjective component – it’s inherently personal and for this purpose it’s an interesting decision maker. Maturing with time, age, experience and sometimes changing entirely – taste is fickle. With it so closely tied to cultural perception and with cultural criticism escalating so quickly we see trends and styles emerge and disappear into history. Artistic eras lasting weeks and months – subcultures adopt some while others move onto the next.
‘Timeless Design’. Often said with the intention to remain unaffected by changing fashions, the ‘timeless’ quality appears to stay closest to the fundamentals – be they the ergonomics of construction, the hierarchy of type, the lighting of an image or the choice of materials. All objective qualities. The so-called rules we tend to follow when creating something. Though if ever there was an example of how broad these rules are, then look no further than a chair and the myriad of variations that exist, all aiming to achieve a singular ergonomic objective.
While we may innately believe these guiding rules to constrict or limit – they are in application the broader field and it’s our subjective assessment of taste that narrows our field of view. And so how credible does ‘credible’ remain as a rationale for a design?