Good Design Is Invisible


Written by Russell Shaw

Published on July 21, 2011



Good design is invisible.

It is not flashy. It is not meretricious. It is not showy.

It does not add to. It takes away from. It removes, disrobes, and whittles down until it is at the core of the idea that it is communicating. Then it conveys the idea. And then good design steps out of the way.

It is simple. It is subtle. It is obvious yet somehow still ingenious.

Kate Krebs has noted, “Waste is a design flaw.” Good design does not have extra frills. It is efficient; it is good because it is “enough.”

It makes sense to everyone. It does not need an explanation of a grid or a concept or a color scheme. It is good because people know that it is good. It appeals to a sense of order that we all need. but mixes in a sense of creativity, or fun, or freshness, or sexiness, that we all desire.

It goes unnoticed, but would be sorely missed if it were gone. In this way it gets the highest appreciation.

“Only when the design fails does it draw attention to itself; when it succeeds, it’s invisible.” – John D. Berry