How to evaluate the quality of your design - 99designs (2022)

How do you know when a design is good or bad? When the design is “pretty,” that means it’s good, right? So what does “pretty” mean? How do you know that your pretty isn’t your boss’s ugly?

Evaluating design quality can be subjective, and the criteria can change depending on the type or purpose of the design itself. But at the end of the day, designs are created to communicate a message and achieve specific outcomes. Looks are an important factor in this, but they alone won’t tell you if the design is effective.

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In order to know whether your design is a winner, you need to understand the elements of good visual communication and judge the design against those rather than abstract, gut feelings. With that in mind, here are a few questions to consider when evaluating graphic design quality.

1. Does the design fulfill its purpose?

Let’s start with the basics: what does the design need to achieve? If it’s a logo design, it needs to represent and communicate a brand’s name. If it’s a landing page design, you may be trying to persuade users to click the “Purchase” button or sign up for an email list.

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Design is all about solving problems with visual solutions—that’s why you need to make sure it presents all of the relevant information to communicate the message or compel the reader to take action. Content is still king, but you’ve got to strike the right balance between educating your audience about your brand and not overwhelming them with too much information in one design.

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For example, the purpose of the landing page design above is lead generation and brand awareness. It includes links to all relevant information about the upcoming product, with the most visual emphasis on capturing potential clients’ emails. It’s simple, effective, and solves the problem of engaging users by capturing their emails before the product launches. If a design achieves its most basic goal, then it’s an effective one.

2. Is the message easy to understand?

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A great design will ensure your message is instantly readable by guiding your audience’s eyes through the content. Good designs have a focal point such as a large, heavier headline (like the title on this book cover here)—something to catch a viewer’s eye and draw them in.

The visual hierarchy of a design determines which elements they should be looking at in what order. Most cultures read from the top of a page from left to right, and many designs (like Turbo Tax’s website below) are created with that in mind.

Above all else, your text needs to be legible, with well-executed design principles and typography to ensure your viewers can read it quickly and easily. In this digital age, our attention spans are shorter than ever, and most people will stop looking at a design if they have to work too hard to find the information they need.

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Typography mistakes, like using too many fonts, poor visual hierarchy, bad typeface choice and not including enough white space, will make your design look less professional and harder to read.

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It might be tempting to ask your designer to fit as much text and images on a design as possible, but research has proven that including more white space actually increases reading comprehension and usability. Layout grids, contrast, alignment and strong hierarchy in the menu design on the left make it look polished and easy to read.

When determining if your message is easy to understand, keep in mind the need to balance form with function in a design. Yes, you want your design to look good, but it won’t be effective if form distracts from the message.

A lot of great design is invisible and not overtly pretty but very effective. No one would call Craigslist the most beautiful website in the world, but the design is useful and easy to understand and they’re an incredibly successful company as a result.

3. Is it aesthetically pleasing?

This is probably the most subjective part of evaluating graphic design. What is appealing to one person might be hideously ugly to another. However, you generally want your designs to look beautiful because this will help them make a more professional and credible impression on an audience.

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Aesthetically pleasing designs will always have a great layout, composition and color scheme, like the designs in Spotify’s “2017 Wrapped” campaign. Accompanying a brilliant, personalized campaign were beautiful images that were engaging and easily shareable. The pictures of the artists as focal points, visual emphasis on personal stats, the clear composition, and bright and harmonious color scheme made for a beautiful design.

If you think a design “pops,” it’s probably because design principles have been used effectively. The movie poster design below grabs your attention with emphasis on a high contrast image of its protagonist, a balanced and symmetrical composition, great use of white space and all supporting text and images directing your eye to the center.

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Good design should be timeless, but it can be useful to take advantage of a trendy look in more temporary designs like posters or flyers. If it’s a logo design, though, you want it to be long lasting, avoid overused trends, and not look dated in a year.

At the end of the day, aesthetic trends will come and go no matter what you do, but don’t get so lost in vying for a certain look that you lose focus of differentiating yourself and communicating your brand.

4. Is the style appropriate for your audience?

Most of the time, you’re not designing for yourself—you’re hoping to create a design that will appeal to a specific audience. They won’t always be able to explain why a design resonates with them, but they’ll have certain expectations for how a design should look.

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A rainbow-colored palette wouldn’t be appropriate for a finance website because most clients are looking a for a consultant that is reassuring, by-the-book and trustworthy. Therefore, a more conservative and understated tone (like the design above) is more appropriate.

Conversely, research shows that children prefer bright colors, so it makes more sense to appeal to them with more colorful designs.

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5. Is the design original?

While nothing is truly original, it’s important to avoid copyright infringement, strive for creativity and make your brand stand out from the competition.

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The meaning of “originality” depends on the type of design you’re dealing with. If it’s a logo design, you better make sure it’s as unique as possible because you need to be able to trademark it and your trademark application will get rejected if you use a copied design or one that looks too similar to an existing design. Even big companies like Airbnb’s have had to deal with coincidental trademark similarities like that.

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It’s difficult to create a brilliantly simple and distinct logo design that doesn’t look similar to any other existing designs because so many ideas have already been taken and registered as trademarks. If a designer creates a logo that looks similar to an existing design, it’s not necessarily because they copied it—it’s because there are some logo concepts that are really common and possible to arrive at independently of seeing those designs. This is why you need to research other designs in your market and avoid overly generic designs.

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“Originality” also means trying to include a little bit of creativity in a design, like a clever concept that evokes your brand’s services. The logo here doesn’t just look great, but also cleverly combines the unicorn and sound concepts for this audio shop with great execution.

Other types of design like banner ads or brochures may include photos, and it’s not always practical or cost-effective to hire a photographer to shoot custom photos for you. That’s where it makes sense to use stock photography—which isn’t original but will enhance your design. Just make sure to purchase the right license for the stock images you’ll be using to avoid any copyright issues.

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It would be great to have the complete creative freedom and technical resources to make the most creative and out-there web designs but it’s important to remember that there are also a lot of important web design conventions that users expect for an intuitive experience with a design.

Some would argue that true originality doesn’t exist and that everything is a remix, but it’s important to at least try to strive for a design that’s as creative and original as possible in order to add that element of delight to a design or stand out from the competition.

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Design quality is a collaborative effort

Great design can do great things for your business, but it won’t do miracles. It doesn’t matter how “good” your design is if you’ve mailed your flyers to the wrong customers or aren’t using the right messaging with your audience. A good design won’t be effective if your product is bad or messaging is flawed, and likewise a poor sales performance isn’t always a reflection on your design quality.

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There are a lot of ways to measure the performance of a design in the real world, like A/B testing web pages, product focus groups, social media engagement and sales. However, not everyone has the luxury of testing a design before they put it out into the wild.

This is where you should take advantage of the expertise of your designer, many of whom have experience in marketing and brand strategy as well as design. A great designer will explain their design decisions and lend their expertise on how best to implement a design. If you’ve gotten this far working with a designer to create a beautiful, custom design, make the most out of that collaboration to bring your design to life out in the real world.

FAQs

How do you evaluate the quality of a website design? ›

How do I give feedback to my designer? ›

How to Give Great Design Feedback
  1. Ask questions. A successful design process is collaborative, and by asking thoughtful questions, communication between the client and the design team is strengthened. ...
  2. Communicate problems, not solutions. ...
  3. Keep the focus on strategic goals. ...
  4. Consolidate feedback. ...
  5. Don't forget to share the good.

How do you evaluate product designs? ›

The 3 Simple Ways to Evaluate Product Design
  1. Is it Usable? And now for the sub-questions! ...
  2. Is it Credible? Credibility isn't necessarily the VeriSign certificate—think polish. ...
  3. Is it Easy to Change? No product design is perfect; expect to get some customer feedback and need to make spur-of-the-moment changes.
30 Mar 2011

What does it mean to evaluate a design? ›

An evaluation design is a structure created to produce an unbiased appraisal of a program's benefits. The decision for an evaluation design depends on the evaluation questions and the standards of effectiveness, but also on the resources available and on the degree of precision needed.

How do you decide if a design is a good design? ›

Let's see each of them in a little more detail.
  1. Good design is innovative. ...
  2. Good design makes a product useful. ...
  3. Good design is aesthetic. ...
  4. Good design makes a product understandable. ...
  5. Good design is unobtrusive. ...
  6. Good design is honest. ...
  7. Good design is long-lasting. ...
  8. Good design is thorough down to the last detail.

What are the 5 criteria for evaluating websites? ›

Five Criteria for Evaluating Web Pages: Accuracy, Authority, Objectivity, Currency and Coverage
  • Accuracy of Web Documents. Who wrote the page? ...
  • Authority of Web Documents. Who published the document? ...
  • Objectivity of Web Documents. ...
  • Currency of Web Documents. ...
  • Coverage of the Web Documents.
9 Sept 2021

How do you comment on design? ›

  1. Be specific. Be very, very specific. ...
  2. Ask questions and listen. ...
  3. Just say what you mean. ...
  4. Understand your boundaries. ...
  5. This one's easy: know your lingo and use those terms right. ...
  6. Trust your designer.

Why is evaluation important in design? ›

Improve program design and implementation.

It is important to periodically assess and adapt your activities to ensure they are as effective as they can be. Evaluation can help you identify areas for improvement and ultimately help you realize your goals more efficiently.

How do you evaluate design thinking? ›

Design Evaluation Methods. Mainly, there are three methods that help in evaluating design ideas; pass-fail evaluation, evaluation matrix and SWOT analysis. These methods can be implemented individually or in a sequence-based number of steps on the number of creative ideas and the type of the evaluation required.

What are the types of evaluation design? ›

These include experimental, quasi-experimental and pre- and post-test evaluations. Evaluation designs that are non-experimental may focus more on the 'why' and 'how' of a program.

What do you put in a evaluation? ›

THE CONTENT OF THE EVALUATION BRIEF
  1. OVERVIEW OF YOUR ORGANISATION. Give a basic outline of your organisation. ...
  2. BACKGROUND TO THE PROGRAM/INITIATIVE. ...
  3. OBJECTIVES OF THE PROJECT. ...
  4. METHODOLOGY. ...
  5. INTERNAL CONTACT PERSON. ...
  6. REPORTING. ...
  7. PRACTICAL INFORMATION. ...
  8. TIMING OF THE WORK.

What are the three characteristics of good design? ›

When I think of design and creating great user experiences, I generally think of it in terms of three things: usability, utility and desirability.

What makes a design effective? ›

The principles of design are the rules a designer must follow to create an effective and attractive composition. The fundamental principles of design are: Emphasis, Balance and Alignment, Contrast, Repetition, Proportion, Movement and White Space. Design differs from art in that it has to have a purpose.

How do you evaluate UI design? ›

The two main techniques for evaluating a user interface are 1) Empirical Evaluation (testing with users) and 2) Heuristic Evaluation (based on a set of rules). While empirical evaluation is by far the best technique, mastering Heuristic Evaluation is also a necessary skill.

What are the 7 ways on evaluating a website? ›

Evaluating Websites

You should consider these criteria for evaluating Web resources (Accuracy, Authority, Objectivity, Currency, Coverage, and Relevancy).

What are the 4 main criteria when evaluating resources? ›

Evaluate sources of information by examining them for authority, accuracy, objectivity, currency, and coverage.

How do you respond to client feedback? ›

How to respond to negative feedback
  1. Express concern. Tell the customer that you appreciate their feedback and are concerned about the treatment they received or problem they're facing.
  2. Restate the problem. When a customer is upset, they need to know they've been heard. ...
  3. Offer solutions. ...
  4. Take it offline.

How do you respond to a client design? ›

Respond right away

Outline the changes clearly, explain any changes that won't work exactly as the client suggests, provide an updated timeline and budget (if applicable) and start working through revisions. The designer and client should confirm an understanding of what will happen next before revisions get underway.

How do you write good feedback example? ›

Here are some examples of specific praise you can use.
  1. This thesis statement is very clear. ...
  2. This paragraph is full of details. ...
  3. Your introduction really grabbed my attention. ...
  4. This transition word is perfect for shifting to the next main idea.
  5. I love how you wrapped up all the main points at the end.
2 Dec 2010

How do you give positive feedback examples? ›

Examples of reinforcing employee feedback
  • “Something I really appreciate about you is....” ...
  • “I think you did a great job when you… ...
  • “I would love to see you do more of X as it relates to Y” ...
  • “I really think you have a superpower around X” ...
  • “One of the things I admire about you is…”

How do I give good UX feedback? ›

Giving useful feedback
  1. Start with a foundation of trust. ...
  2. Frame your feedback with context.
  3. Be clear and specific. ...
  4. Describe problems, don't offer solutions. ...
  5. Be prepared to explain your thinking. ...
  6. Serve up a love sandwich. ...
  7. Stay objective.
12 Feb 2019

What is a design critique? ›

A design critique is performed in order to evaluate a design and provide feedback on whether or not it meets business objectives and user needs. Design critiques encourage collaboration within teams and provide a boost to positive team culture toward improving design ideas.

How do you evaluate a website? ›

There are six (6) criteria that should be applied when evaluating any Web site: authority, accuracy, objectivity, currency, coverage, and appearance. For each criterion, there are several questions to be asked. The more questions you can answer "yes", the more likely the Web site is one of quality.

What makes a good web design? ›

An effective website design should fulfil its intended function by conveying its particular message whilst simultaneously engaging the visitor. Several factors such as consistency, colours, typography, imagery, simplicity, and functionality contribute to good website design.

How do you evaluate a website checklist? ›

Checklist for Evaluating Web Resources
  1. Is the information reliable? ...
  2. Is the material at this site useful, unique, accurate or is it derivative, repetitious, or doubtful? ...
  3. Is the information easy to get to? ...
  4. Is the site available on a consistent basis?

How do you describe a website design? ›

Web designing is the creation of websites and pages to reflect a company's brand and information and ensure a user-friendly experience. Appearance and design are incorporated as vital elements whether you're designing a website, mobile app or maintaining content on a web page.

What are the 7 ways on evaluating a website? ›

Evaluating Websites

You should consider these criteria for evaluating Web resources (Accuracy, Authority, Objectivity, Currency, Coverage, and Relevancy).

What are the 6 Criteria of evaluation? ›

The OECD DAC Network on Development Evaluation (EvalNet) has defined six evaluation criteria – relevance, coherence, effectiveness, efficiency, impact and sustainability – and two principles for their use.

What are the five golden rules of web designing? ›

5 golden rules of ethical web design (& how to apply them)
  • Focus on the message. ...
  • Keep your layout neat. ...
  • Choose user-friendly fonts. ...
  • Avoid animation hell. ...
  • Make it easy to navigate.
29 Sept 2021

What is accuracy in Web design? ›

Accuracy

A high quality website source contains accurate information that can be verified by other sources. The information should be free of spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes. There should be evidence of an editor or fact checker who is responsible for making sure that the information is correct.

What is website evaluation? ›

1. This is the weighing up process to rationally assess the effectiveness and benefits of websites which are expected to improve organizations' business value.

What are the ten key questions to ask when evaluating a website? ›

Website Evaluation Questions
  • Is the information accurate? Is the information reliable and free of errors? ...
  • Who is the author and what are his/her credentials? Is it clear who the author is? ...
  • How objective is the source? ...
  • How current is the information? ...
  • How extensive is the coverage of information?

What are the 3 types of web design? ›

Web designing is of three kinds, to be specific static, dynamic or CMS and eCommerce.

What are the four basic principles of web design? ›

Space: In web design, this is often referred to as "white space," or the area between elements. Hierarchy: The importance of some elements in respect to others. Contrast: How different elements can create a more cohesive composition. Scale/Proportion: The relationship between the size of elements.

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