In my last post, I brought up a question that everyone considering hiring a design firm will inevitably ask themselves – what is the difference between a good designer and a great designer?  I’d like to explore the first differentiator raised by Cameron Moll in his presentation, “Nine skills that separate good and great designers“:


I love that this is the first point, because I feel like it is one of the most important distinctions that can be made.  The reason is because it speaks to the heart of what great design is – a visual language.  Long before a potential customer reads the copy on your website or the words on the back of your product’s packaging, they notice how it looks.  A good designer can make it look good, sure, but a great designer can make it say something.  (Along those same lines, an ill-conceived design can actually say something negative.)  The reason to make sure your design is communicating is the same reason that companies put a helpful receptionist at the front desk: if you have an opportunity to talk to a customer and create a great brand impression, don’t waste it.

If you are in the process of hiring a designer (or suspect that you someday will), pay close attention to the promises they make about what they can offer.  A good designer might say that they’ll make it look great, and they quite possibly will.  A great designer, however, knows that his or her job is to communicate.