A few months ago, there was been an incredible website, Start-Ups, This Is How Design Works, circling through social media. The mission of the site is clear: teach start-ups why they should value design. This got me thinking that maybe we should address that topic in our own way here on the blog.

Throughout the years, design has gotten a reputation as the profession of making things “look pretty.” But what is design, really? While it is always a designer’s mission to make a piece as aesthetically appealing as possible—and don’t get me wrong, this is a very important quality for your brand to have as well—design is much deeper than that.

At its core, design is about solving problems

The real function of a designer is to help solve communication problems and make things usable for your audience. A designer’s mission is not simply to make a piece look pleasant, but to help make it communicate the proper message to the intended audience. This means that a great designer won’t simply take design orders, but will push back when things don’t make sense and will try to realign the project when necessary in order to help it work as well as possible.

Aesthetic appeal + usability = win

Please don’t take this message to mean that aesthetics are not important. They are incredibly important to creating a rich experience for your customer, and typically that is heavily influenced by the aesthetics of your brand. However, it is important to remember that no amount of aesthetic design will make a bad experience a good one, so it is critical to allow design to permeate the appearance of your project and into the way it actually works so that you can to provide the best experience for your audience.