Three common misconceptions about the graphic design process

Written & Illustrated by: Ivan Langham, Senior Designer

Minimalist design is simple and thus easy to create

Design that’s simple or uncomplicated tends to be either loved or hated – either way, it’s rarely thought of as hard to achieve or time consuming. In fact, it can often give the impression it was created with little effort or thought.

However, great minimalist design always has the audience or user experience at its core.

While not every execution benefits from a minimalist approach, when done effectively in the right context it can draw the eye to key elements on the page, allow information to be easily understood, streamline the user journey, and even stand out from the crowd. Just because it appears to be simple, doesn’t mean countless hours weren’t spent stripping away the unnecessary, leaving the things that do matter to stand out.

Effective minimalist design is the culmination of the designer’s years of training, research, and honing of craft to impact, communicate, guide, and persuade the audience, which is not an easy thing to achieve.

Colour selection is random or chosen because it looks nice

It's understandable to think a designer lands on a colour palette simply because it "looks pretty” or “feels right”, but the good ones always have a clear, considered reason for their choice. Colour theory and extensive research is what guides selection, and it’s closer to a science than art.

Like anything, colour is subjective, but there’s also proof that different colours evoke different psychological responses. In fact, colour is registered with the brain before images or text. It varies with culture and context, but to most people each colour holds a certain meaning or feeling. For example, blue is often associated with safety, trust, and loyalty, while green is environmental, health, and growth.

When working with a product or service, the right colour combinations can influence how someone feels, thinks, and behaves. While there are exceptions to the rules and multiple variables to consider, like accessibility and competitor analysis, it is likely that the colour choice was considered and deliberate.

What a designer presents to you is all that they explored

Once you’ve briefed your designer, it’s easy to think that more concepts or executions is a better outcome. After all, why wouldn’t you want more choice, more bang for your buck?

But part of the designer’s process is the exploration (and development and rejection) of multiple possibilities. During this time, they’ll create a range of concepts with even more variations within each. The individual or team then narrow down what’s working best, refine, and present it on.

Ultimately, what’s presented back to you is the best of the best, sifted out from countless ideas, iterations, and subtle tweaks – with each concept a unique and considered solution to your particular brief.

In looking beyond the misconceptions, we can start to see how creativity, process and craftsmanship come together - and appreciate that, when it comes to great design, there's definitely more than meets the eye.