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  • Writer's pictureBrianna Walker

Isn't Design Just Making Things Look Pretty?

This is one of the biggest misconceptions among onlookers peering into the world of design. I often hear design and art being used interchangeably. Honestly, before I looked more into design as a career path, I wasn’t even sure of the difference. This is the best way I’ve found to convey it; design is about communication and problem solving while art is centered around existing and perception.

Okay so, what does that mean..?

Imagine yourself in this scenario: You’re on your favorite clothing store website trying to buy a new pair of pants. What’s the process of doing this? How do you locate and place your desired items in your cart? This is what design is about: questioning and planning how the user performs the desired set of tasks.

Design revolves around making tasks clear and easy for the user to follow. Placement, color choice, and typography (in other words, font choice) are all taken into account when designing. Designers have to decide where to place elements on platforms in order to subconsciously guide the user through their journey smoothly. Rooted in psychology, design is about YOU as a user. Design is a succession of actions with the goal of ease in mind.

Now, another scenario for you to place yourself in: You walk into your favorite art museum. How do the paintings make you feel? What messages do the art pieces convey? Art is about expression and messages.

Symbols, colors, figures, and objects are used in art to evoke something from the viewer. Whether it be pretty, shocking, simplistic, or chaotic, art is about perception.

While design and art overlap in some areas, they are different entities and should be classified as such. Artistic qualities certainly go into design - the incorporation of graphic art, colors, and other visuals aid users in the design process. Design methods of communication are incorporated into art pieces. These two facets are in no way mutually exclusive, but in the grand scheme of this world, are definitely different.

If an online platform didn’t look aesthetically pleasing, users would be less inclined to use it. If you clicked on a website and it was cluttered and chaotic, bets are that you’d go find another site to look at. Design creates a user friendly experience and when it is good, often goes unnoticed, but when a platform is poorly designed, it is very obvious.

Both are important but designers aren’t always artists and artists aren’t always designers.

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