Has your design palate developed?

5 years ago  •  By  •  0 Comments

I love watching Gordon Ramsay in action.

The man is passionate and talented. It’s interesting to watch him tear into people that should know better yet continue to operate well below acceptable culinary standards.

Sometimes these people are trained chefs who’ve become lazy. Sometimes they are people that have no culinary training and ‘cook’ in blissful ignorance.

There are basic standards for every career path that must be adhered to. It’s surprising when something is uncovered that shows the dodgy approach that businesses can take when trying to save a few dollars, whether that is from laziness or ignorance.

Take Yahoo as an example

You may have heard of Yahoo’s current President and CEO, Marissa Mayer. Ranked the 14th most powerful business woman in Fortune Magazine (2012).

This lady knows what she’s doing and is well-respected in her field of expertise. Surprisingly, this didn’t stop her, three designers and an intern redesigning the Yahoo logo — over a weekend!

The end result is a horrible amateur logo thats design was driven by someone who doesn’t understand the importance of graphic design or the role it plays in connecting businesses to users.

Worse still, no users were consulted, no research was done, no strategic brief was followed. What are the chances of them developing a good solution?

Palate isn’t developed

Gordon Ramsay often mentions that you need to develop a sophisticated palate to be able to tell the difference between good food and bad food. Why? Because if you eat bad tasting food all the time you mistakenly believe that it tastes good. Without a broader frame of reference, how are you to know any different?

If you’re not actively expanding your tastes by eating good food, it’s impossible to have a knowledgeable understanding of what tastes good.

Marissa Mayer may be an excellent CEO and computer scientist, but her design palate is still at an infants level.

In fact, without training, everybody’s design palate is off, don’t fool yourself.

In the first years of studying design at university you’re encouraged to stop and consider all the visual imagery you come across. You don’t consider these items in a void, instead you consider them in class using the design theory principles to break apart what you’re seeing. Once you can articulate what you’re looking at you can then consider why it does / doesn’t work.

A common problem for beginning design students is the inability to discern why their design/s are bad.

Discernment is developed over time through peer review and the constant encouragement to use the design vocabulary to articulate what they’re seeing — they eye needs to be trained.

All designs contain the design principles, the difference is that good designers use the principles to craft an outcome. After a while those forced principles forge the designers instinct.

Bad designers are unaware of the design fundamentals, they don’t have the ability to discern what is wrong in a design and, as a result, can’t correct it because their palate is undeveloped


You may have the software…

It’s sad the amount of times we come across somebody that has a copy of InDesign, Illustrator or Photoshop and equates the owning of the software to being a professional designer.

Owning a white coat and a scalpel doesn’t make you a surgeon, everyone understands this, yet that principle is overlooked in the design world by so many.

Don’t be offended if you engage a trained designer to develop a logo for you, based on your idea, and they say to you that it needs more thought and work.

They’re not doing it to be mean. They’re doing it because they care about the work they produce — their name is on the line, as is yours.

A trained designer understands and cares about the impact of design on customers. Bad design does nothing for your cause. It does nothing to engage your customers because it’s often created in an untrained vacuum and it’s often too literal and boring.

Sometimes the kindest words are the most honest.