By: Dave Ed On: December 28, 2014 In: Daisy Thinks, David Edwards Comments: 0

When most people think of what creative design needs to deliver they’ll think of the Generic values of design like function, intuitiveness, aesthetic values. These are important, but only part of the story. If design was just a case of presenting stuff nicely, then you can stop here. But if you believe design is a vital communication tool, then you need to think deeper.

Less obvious than the Generic values are the Specific values to do with target audience, mindset, proposition. This is where creating genuinely effective customer journeys comes from and where the creative adds value. Get those in place and what makes it really special is the vision for the brand and the vision of the designer. It’s the vision that will drive the designer to excel, to innovate and to keep the entire project on task and to create a genuinely unique and great design. It is the designer’s vision that sets the bar high and gives us something to judge the design by.

In this article I’m going to deal only with the generic values but please do also read the related articles listed below.


The design has a job of work to do. This means it has to deliver on the business requirement that has stimulated it.

So great design has to be born out of a marketing need such as to get more customers to convert online or to recruit more of the right kind of customer who will stay with you for longer. So a great design needs to understand marketing and business strategy.


Design needs to be obvious. Well signposted. And not get in the way. The journey a customer is taken on by design needs to feel natural to them. Because if a customer gets lost in their journey, it’s not the design they’ll feel negative towards, it’s the brand and the product they were trying to buy into.


Design is as much about copy as it is visual. Design has to work hand in hand with messaging, headlines and copy.

Design is the platform for clear communication. It sets the ‘mood bed’ for the story. Good designers know how to vary the cadence of the story to their advantage.


It needs to look good. This is pretty obvious isn’t it? But this should happen naturally if everything else is working.

So the questions to ask are: does it reflect the brands values as well as the brand design? Does it look the part? Does it look professional? Does the brand look credible? The acid test for any design is ‘ is this enhancing or diminishing the customer’s perception of the brand?’


Is the design doing anything new? If it isn’t, why change from the old version? New design is the opportunity to push the brand forward.

Joined up

Good design can be consistently applied to every last touch point. Is the design concept strong enough to be recognizable even down to the most humble tool tip or email?

How does the design concept develop pre, during and post a website visit? Does it work in paid and earned media channels where the noise is greatest, as well as it works in owned media?

Trends not fads

Great design needs to be aware of trends, and great designers need to be able to distinguish trends from fads.

Current trends are being determined by the massive growth of tablet and smart phone use: Simpler navigation, more scroll than click, micro-interactions and of course, responsive design. And truly integrated digital journeys have led to more valued content, better use of imagery and detailed and varied content strategies. Also trends driven by SEO leading to multiple and varied content strands.

Trends are sustained innovations and they are sustained because there is a real reason for them to be there. Fads are subjective and fashion led. There’s a fashion for full screen bleed pictures on home pages these days, it reflects a greater appreciation of the visual language, but is it a fad or a trend?

The generic value should be a given. If you want your digital creative solution to genuinely engage customers, then you need to start to look to specific customer values, and your vision for digital communications creative.

See also

Specific values of great design – or adding value

Vision for great design – what makes a designer excel

The three principles of great design



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