The Key Contrasts Between Designers and Great Designers

Comparisons can be difficult, but it helps us in making decisions effectively. Even when we have no innate means of determining the value of something, we often evaluate things on the basis of emotions and experiences.

Bringing these contrasts into your design habits is what separates a great designer from a good designer. Like any other art, you don’t design something because it’s required. You design something because it fulfils the gap between needs and requirements. It is shaped by how well it answers the question, “why we are doing this?” or “how it solves the purpose?”

Here are five differences between good and great designers:

1. Great designers design in multiple mediums, seamlessly.

They incorporate the whole user flow into the design – no matter where that takes them. They can design across multiple mediums simultaneously. They work seamlessly with the medium they are designing for. They understand responsive design and create flows that jump between desktop, mobile, email, wearables, print, television, radio and more.

They maintain brand consistency while doing this and design the brand in a way that it is capable of this level of varied usage. They understand the full spectrum of design requirements and are happy to execute them, not just the ones they are interested in. They know that everything the company does is a part of their design thinking.

2. Great designers are ambitious and determined.

Let’s face this, becoming a great designer is difficult. But wait, becoming a designer was your childhood dream, right? Is design something that you can do in your sleep?


Great designers do not wear halos. They are people with SMART goals. They are ambitious and determined to the point that they can drive inspiration from everywhere – whether it’s a walk in the woods or a getaway to a foreign land, they’ll find new shapes and different hues to find a new muse.

3. Great designers simplify everything, habitually.

Simplifying things is not only important in branding and design, but it also applies in life, in general. Great designers have an eye for detail; they question the necessity of every element. See too many colours? They bring it back to monotone or dual-tone. Too many micro-interactions? Cut it down, mate! Great designers establish order, even if it means breaking certain rules.

At its heart, design seeks to solve problems. So, sweat out the details. Play along with colours, interactions, typography, icons, and shadows. Revisit areas where the user might face friction while interacting, re-do what is the simplest way to perform a task. All these details separate the good from the bad. While the stunning visuals do attract people, the user experience is altogether a different thing.

It’s like opening a window to an amazing view but taking utmost care to shield it against unwanted noise from surroundings. It is about taking care of aesthetics without compromising on experience.

4. Great designers think more, design less.

And they do it like a boss. The buzzword for this phrase is “minimalism”. Minimalism is not about losing something. It is about having the right amount of everything. In ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ by Marie Kondo, she defines tidying as “taking each item in your hand, asking yourself whether it sparks joy, and deciding on this basis whether or not to keep it”.

Great designers weigh their options in a similar way. They think twice as much as needed before stuffing a website/application with all the design knowledge they possess. They stay cautious with colours, they take care of white space, they worry about contrast, alignment and fret about every small detail.
Great designers sketch more. They make use of pen and paper and use it as an outlet for ideas. Their design decision is devoid of user-bias and they take user feedback for every conflicting decision.

5. Great designers think about the user, all the time.

When Sony sells their television, they conduct worldwide user research through home visits and user interviews in order to incorporate the user’s perspective from the very beginning of product lifecycle. Before a new product is launched, Sony communicates with its consumers and tests on various factors such as viewability, understandability, and responsiveness. On the basis of the results, Sony repeats this cycle while continuously correcting usability problems.

Similarly, great designers worry about every small issue that the user might face, like how to solve the cart abandonment issue? How to make user on-boarding more intuitive? How can we make shopping experience pleasing? How can we make a 3-step checkout process?

A fellow designer, Anton Nikolov says, “Becoming a great designer is a different ball game. It is almost an endless road and it is crazy exciting!” He declares himself as “NOT a Great Designer”.

Where do you think you stand? Are you caught up in the rubble too? We would love to hear your views on this, send an email at

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