There are always two sides to every argument. The argument of design is the same – one side states that a book should not be judged by its cover while the other states that unless the cover is attractive, no one will pick it up to read it. It is human nature to be attracted to beautiful things or things that appear attractive – Imagine a handsome man sitting in a café, who has the personality of cardboard. Then imagine another man, sitting on the next table, with plain-looks but the most addictive personality on the planet.
If both are sitting alone, sipping coffee, who is a girl more likely to strike up a conversation with? That is the power that design has on human beings. No matter how much we may say we care about the quality of a product, it is the packaging that makes first contact with us. As a result, the focus on packaging, as a designer, is absolutely essential.
Works Every Time!
The fact is, just as with the café-guy situation, graphic design will always rely on attracting attention first, and then getting into the nitty-gritty of the matter. If you are putting up an advertisement about a sale at a local store, why do we put up massive “SALE” signs? Because it catches the eye and whether a person was initially planning to buy something or not, they will certainly grab a look to see if they can pick something up on a bargain.
To say that people are obsessed with design would be an understatement and here’s why – In every single aspect of our lives, we take care of appearances or looks in every possible way. From taking a bath in the morning to combing our hair, putting on certain types of clothes and walking & talking in a particular way is what everyone does. We align our home’s furniture in a particular way – search for that perfect vase for hours, just so that it will match our curtains; not buy new bed-spreads for days because we can’t find something that matches the walls, and so on.
We desire things that are visually pleasing and aspire to be in that state ourselves. Our need to look good, buy things that look good or use things that look good precedes the substance or content of that entity or product.
It’s All in the Mind
All of this is nothing but an indication of how obsessed humans are with the way we look or with how our surroundings appear. You might wonder how the perfect vase or bed-spread will help? It’s not going to make your flowers last longer or your bed’s not going to become softer or more comfortable because of the bed-spread. However, the psychological effect of something fitting into the “grand scheme of things” works wonders for the human mind.
Knowing that we have the right brand of coffee changes the way we approach the rest of our day; sitting on the same bar-counter will ensure that we have the right drinking experience – not literally no, but psychologically, it works itself into our comfort zone – in fact, it becomes an integral part of our comfort zone.
Colours bring out certain chemical reactions in our brain, depending on how we have programmed it. Text styles and fonts can instantly give us an indication of what kind of material we are going to read about. A tie, or the lack of it, will tell us (whether rightly or wrongly) how interested someone is in working at their jobs. Basically, design or appearance helps us create, reinforce or apply our perceptions to the world around us, breaking everything down to elements that we understand and are comfortable with.
A Worthy Design
Humans constantly require reassurance about the choices they make in life. The Apple Ipod wouldn’t work any differently if it were given to you wrapped in a brown paper bag in a dirty back-alley. However, when you step into a jazzy store, buy that fancy box, which contains that same music-playing device, you feel happier paying that same amount of money because you feel that you’ve gotten more.
So why do people care about design? That’s probably it – the experience or the reassurance that tells you that you’ve not wasted your time or money or effort is what design does. Even if you pick up, or even buy, a nicely packaged box for a product is the worst in its industry, you would easily forgive yourself because you were attracted by the design – anyone would!
In the world of graphic design, every customer has his design. For a designer, the challenge is to enter their minds and find out what they prefer. Once you’ve got that down pat – they are but mere puppets on your fingers.