Beauty is in the eye...

by Joe Gillespie — Mar 1, 2002

Bad style is something else. As the song goes, 'You've either got or you haven't got style'. If you are tone deaf, you will sing out of tune and be totally unaware of the fact until somebody else tells you. If you have bad visual style, you are probably equally unaware that your communications are 'out of tune' too.

Communicating at an emotive level is impossible to avoid, you don't have to do anything to send a message of some kind. Saying nothing is a statement in its own right. "Did you take the last can of beer from the fridge?" "I'm saying nothing!"

You have to make sure that the (subliminal) message being received is the same one you intended to send.

A more common fault is where the function and style are not necessarily bad, but in the wrong order. 'Function with style' is generally to be applauded, as is 'style with function', if somewhat more difficult to achieve.

'Style, or self-expression, getting in the way of function' is probably the greatest pitfall for novice designers. Like cotton candy, something can look sweet but have no substance.

Fortunately, situations like this are fairly easily identified. If somebody tells you that something you've done looks 'cool' - worry! Years ago, the word 'nice' was used. Believe me, these are derogatory terms, not compliments!

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