Form Follows Function: Balancing the Pretty with the Functional

With graphic design, it can be easy to become very focused on the design and lose sight of the original goal and scope of the project. To keep you focused and on task, we recommend these two simple reminders: 

  1. Don’t overcomplicate the design
  2. Always keep in mind for whom you’re creating the project and why

This concept of “form follows function” is the design principle of architect Louis H. Sullivan, who originally coined the phrase in his 1896 essay, “The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered.” Sullivan’s young protegee, Frank Lloyd Wright, later revised his mentor’s principle, writing in 1939 that that “form and function should be one.” 

These philosophies of building apply to graphic design projects in much the same way as they do with skyscrapers and organic architecture: bring together the task and the design in a harmonious way. 

Some examples we like are Sidetracked, an independent travel magazine with strong visual appeal, and the Hungarian Tourism Agency’s website, Visit Hungary.

Whether it’s creating a business card, banner, or an entire website, a design should be aesthetically appealing but also achieve its goal: Neither form nor function should overpower the other.

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