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 a design portfolio? ›

Here are 7 qualities to look for in design portfolios to ensure you're hiring the best designer for the job.
  1. PORTFOLIO EXECUTION.
  2. SIMPLICITY.
  3. ABILITY TO SOLVE REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS.
  4. COLLABORATION.
  5. VISUAL DESIGN.
  6. STRATEGIC THINKING.
  7. RELEVANCY.

How do you level up in 99designs? ›

Designers may apply for a level review every 6 months if they meet certain criteria. Once we receive your application we'll review it and notify you of their decision. Designers may not apply outside of the application periods.

What are the 5 principles of effective logo design? ›

5 Principles Of Effective Logo Design
  • Simple. Less is more. ...
  • Memorable. In order for a logo to be memorable or have a “sticky” factor, it needs to be both simple and relevant or appropriate to the audience. ...
  • Timeless. ...
  • Versatile/Flexible. ...
  • Relevant & Appropriate.
22 Jun 2015

How do I know if my design is good? ›

Make sure that focus of the design is where it should be. Check also the balance of varied design elements. See if visual flow is right and contrast, if required, is just perfect. Readability of text, color scheme, and correct resolution of images are other things a designer must check before finalizing the work.

What determines quality in design? ›

Design principles are really the foundational parts of what defines a design as “quality.” The elements include; lines, shapes, color, texture, size, typography, and space. Quality design uses some or all of these elements in a balanced way. For example, but not cluttering together and by observing a hierarchy.

What is a design quality? ›

Design quality is the value of a design to customers. Design is the root of all quality including the quality of products, services, experiences, systems and processes. For example, a product with a poor design will be low quality even if quality control and quality assurance succeed in producing the design accurately.

How do you evaluate a design UX? ›

Framework to Evaluate and Improve the User Experience
  1. Define your outcome measures. Your metrics should match your research goals. ...
  2. Define the users and what they're trying to accomplish. Who are the users and what are they trying to do? ...
  3. Measure the baseline. ...
  4. Make your changes. ...
  5. Measure after your redesign.
3 Nov 2015

What are the three 3 key considerations in evaluating a candidate's portfolio? ›

There are three key criteria to take into consideration when assessing a portfolio: the combined value of the projects in the portfolio, the overall risk/value balance, and the alignment of the portfolio with the strategic goals of your business.

How do you evaluate a UX design portfolio? ›

You just have to take the right steps and keep certain things in mind during the evaluation process.
  1. Read Reviews and Look for Positivity and Negativity. ...
  2. Dismiss Certain Types of Experience. ...
  3. Get a Sense Of Their Exact Abilities in UX Design. ...
  4. Get a Sense of the Designer's Mindset.

What is a mid level designer? ›

The next step up from a Junior designer is a Mid-Level Graphic Designer will have experience of 3-5 years, whether that's an agency, freelance, or in-house. They will work with both the Junior and the Senior designers to complete work.

What are the levels of designers? ›

A small startup with one or two designers may start with just one or two completely informal levels. Another startup may use four levels, such as Junior Designer, Senior Designer, Design Manager, and Design Director.

How do you become a mid level designer? ›

Mid Level designers demonstrate an above average understanding of our designer criteria: Execution of Design Principles: How well you execute typography, visual hierarchy, composition and color in your designs. This includes presenting a complete and professional profile of only your best work.

How do you judge a logo? ›

A great logo is simple enough to be able to take on the meaning of the brand without adding too much of its own clutter and detail. (Simplicity also ensures your logo can scale nicely wherever you use it.) The exception is when the visual details are a big part of the brand's heritage.

What is one of the qualities of a good logo design? ›

The general consensus among designers is that logos should be unique, scalable, simple, and work well in monochrome. This is all sound practice, and this article does not argue against any of these mantras. That being said, there is more to gauge quality than these common prerequisites.

What makes a logo design great? ›

A great logo is distinctive, appropriate, memorable, practical and simple in form. It conveys the owner's intended message, as well as being able to be printed at any size while remaining effective without color needed.

What are the 3 rules of good logo design? ›

3 Rules for Effective Logo Design
  • Make sure your logo has scalability. Your logo needs to be able to be scaled up or down without losing its identity or effectiveness. ...
  • Your logo should work well with one-color printing. ...
  • Keep it simple and avoid too much detail.

What is the golden rule of logo design? ›

One of the best things about the Golden Ratio is that it gives you a simple number to help structure the otherwise expressive nature of design. Simply multiply an element's size by 1.618 to figure out the size of another element, or overlay the Golden Spiral to adjust their placement.

How is quality of design and quality of conformance decided? ›

Quality of design is defined as a fit between a product's (service's) design and customer needs; quality of conformance is defined as a fit between the attributes of an actual product and its specification. In order to satisfy customers, quality should be high on both dimensions.

Why is quality of design important? ›

A quality design establishes trust. This principle applies to retail products, websites, film, and design elements within your home. A good design will feel authentic. While a poor design communicates to the subconscious that something isn't quite right.

How do I judge a UI designer? ›

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 is UX benchmarking? ›

According to the Nielsen/Norman Group, usability or user experience benchmarking is "the process of evaluating a product or service's user experience by using metrics to gauge its relative performance against a meaningful standard." While benchmarking can require a good amount of time and effort, there are few ...

How do I make a good product design portfolio? ›

Five Tips for Creating Your Product Design Portfolio
  1. Keep it updated with your recent work or projects you're most proud of. ...
  2. Details and aesthetics count. ...
  3. Tell a compelling story and be consistent with your format. ...
  4. Focus on the user. ...
  5. Know your audience and the role you're applying for.
30 Nov 2021

Why portfolio evaluation is needed? ›

Once an investor selects a portfolio it is necessary that he evaluates its portfolio periodically so as to achieve its financial goals. Performance evaluation is one of the most critical areas of investment analysis.

What does a good UX design portfolio look like? ›

Be explicit about your skills, the process you use, and the kinds of projects you specialize in, but be mindful of presenting too much information. UX portfolios should not be a retrospective of ALL past work. Choose projects that are specific, recent, and outstanding, and present them as a design process.

What does a good UX portfolio look like? ›

Your UX design portfolio should contain 3–4 relevant UX case studies to sufficiently demonstrate your abilities. If you're new to UX, recruiters might accept UX design portfolios that contain 1–2 UX case studies. Your UX case studies have to be relevant to the job role for which you want to apply.

What is higher than a graphic designer? ›

The career path for graphic design starts with a junior or associate position, followed by a graphic designer, then a senior, and director.

What makes a good junior designer? ›

As a Junior Product Designer, you are expected to take notes, create wireframes, and build prototypes. But they also need to provide feedback on design decisions and communicate their ideas. Junior Designers are the new kids on the block. If they learn fast, they can be an excellent asset to any company!

What is expected of a junior UX designer? ›

What do Jr UX designers do? conduct user research and usability testing, organize and analyze research findings for a better understanding of user insight, assist in wireframing, sketching, prototyping, and creating user flows.

What level is principal designer? ›

Principal designers primarily work at the group level, pairing with the other cross-functional group leaders to help all of their teams to be successful.

What skills do level designers need? ›

Good Level Designers need a high level of creativity.
...
Skills required to become a level designer
  • Possess a great understanding of game levels, level layouts, drawing maps, architecture, and other design areas related to game level design.
  • Strong ability to use puzzles and gameplay to create interesting narratives.

What tools do level designers use? ›

Among the most well-known and used tools to create and edit levels in video games are 3D Studio Max, Photoshop, Blender, AutoCAD, Lightwave, Maya, Softimage XSI, Unity, Unreal Engine, or Grome – usually customized with a special plugin developed for the specific game.

How many years is a senior designer? ›

It takes about five to six years of graphic design experience to obtain a senior designer position. Consider advanced certification. Obtaining advanced certification may help to distinguish you as an expert in graphic design.

What is the next step after graphic design? ›

The typical graphic design career path begins as a junior graphic designer at a creative agency or an in-house design team at a big company. From there you might seek to progress through to midweight designer, followed by senior designer, art director, creative director and beyond.

How do I go from junior to senior UX designer? ›

Whether you are new to the field or have some work experience, you can start your career as a UX designer by following these steps.
  1. Take education in UX design.
  2. Familiarize yourself with UX design tools.
  3. Build your UX design portfolio.
  4. Practice and improve your UX design skills.
  5. Work your way up to Senior UX Designer.
14 Mar 2022

How do you judge a logo? ›

A great logo is simple enough to be able to take on the meaning of the brand without adding too much of its own clutter and detail. (Simplicity also ensures your logo can scale nicely wherever you use it.) The exception is when the visual details are a big part of the brand's heritage.

How do you charge for a logo? ›

From DIY design to working with a graphic designer or agency, the cost of a logo can vary from $2 to $2500+, with several options in between. Mid-range options include buying a logo from an online logo maker (starting at $20) or a design crowdsourcing website (starting at $99).

How do you appreciate someone design? ›

15 Ways to Compliment Someone's Art
  1. 1 “I was immediately drawn to this piece.”
  2. 2 “This is so beautiful.”
  3. 3 “All the hard work you put into this piece really shows!”
  4. 4 “Your work always brings a smile to my face.”
  5. 5 “I love how you used color in this piece.”
  6. 6 “Your style evokes so many emotions.”

What makes a logo design great? ›

A great logo is distinctive, appropriate, memorable, practical and simple in form. It conveys the owner's intended message, as well as being able to be printed at any size while remaining effective without color needed.

What happens if my logo is similar to another? ›

To protect your rights to use your logo, you should register your logo as a trademark. This gives you exclusive rights to use that logo in its registered class of goods or services. If another business in the same or related class is using a logo similar to yours, they may be infringing your trade mark rights.

Do logos need a copyright? ›

Is a logo subject to copyright? Yes. A logo that includes artistic or design elements, (i.e. not just the name on its own), is legally regarded as being a work of artistic creation and therefore will be protected under copyright law.

Can I trademark a logo that already exists? ›

1. Can You File for a Trademark That Exists? Updated November 12, 2020: If you're wondering, "can you trademark something that already exists," the simple answer is "no." Generally speaking, if somebody has used a trademark before you, you can't register the trademark for yourself.

What is a fair price for logo design? ›

The cost of a logo design is anywhere from $0 to tens of thousands of dollars, but if you're a small business or startup looking for quality design, a good logo design should cost between $300-$1300. Logo design prices can vary, for instance, the price of a logo design depends on the quality and who created it.

How much should a freelancer charge for a logo? ›

Logo design: $100 - $5,000

Freelancer.com estimates that the average price for freelance logo design ranges between $100 and $5,000. While this may seem like a big, ambiguous range, it depends on the designer's experience and the type of brands they work with.

How much should a brand designer charge? ›

Most agencies charge anywhere from $150–$300 per hour for creative and strategic services. This should include ideation for your company name, tag line, brand positioning, brand story, and messaging. The range is typically $1,000 to $5,000 for these services.

How do you describe beautiful art? ›

We can use the adjective harmonious to describe a well-balanced piece of art, in terms of colours, composition and/or style. Lastly, stimulating is another fantastic adjective that can be used to describe a piece of work that, in some way, motivates or inspires you.

How do you praise a good product? ›

Phrases
  1. have appreciated.
  2. have been impressed with.
  3. have enjoyed your.
  4. how satisfied we have been.
  5. how pleased we are.
  6. how very much.
  7. it's a pleasure to.
  8. never fail to be impressed.

How can I be creative with compliments? ›

This may be especially important if you live with social anxiety disorder (SAD), as your social skills may be lacking.
  1. Choose Unique Words. ...
  2. Use Words From a Different Language. ...
  3. Customize Your Compliments. ...
  4. Make a Celebrity Comparison. ...
  5. Give a Written Compliment. ...
  6. Compliment Using Your Eyes. ...
  7. Compliment by Text.
15 Aug 2021

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1. Ep. 16 - Branding with 99 Designs - Part 1 of 5 - Intro
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2. Why Does 99designs Reject Your Application?
(Umair Ansar)
3. 99Designs Review: Watch This Before Using 99Designs! 100% Honest Review
(99designs review)
4. Winning Tips on 99Designs
(Study Hours)
5. How to Get Great Logo Designers w/ 99Designs
(StartupBros)
6. Why Graphic Design on Fiverr, Upwork, 99Designs is NOT WORTH IT
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