Good Design & Bad Design: Using virtues to guide us

What is good design? A combination of aesthetics & ethics and exhibits virtues writes Marty Nuemeier in The Designful Company. Here are the virtues as they break out for good and bad designs.

Good Design

  • Generosity
  • Courage
  • Diligence
  • Honesty
  • Substance
  • Clarity
  • Thriftiness
  • Wit

Bad Design

  • Selfishness
  • Fear
  • Laziness
  • Deceit
  • Pettiness
  • Confusion
  • Apathy
  • Wastefulness
  • Stupidity

Based on the above here are 3 things I need to do or build

  1. Write a virtue into a creative brief. Choose 2 or 3 good virtues from the list that a particular design should go for & write it in the creative brief. Choose 1 bad virtue & write that in as a one to avoid.
  2. Build Issue Boards that pull from these virtues as concepts in the structured diagram.
  3. Use this language in critiques.  Beyond just using the basic principles of design learned in my design 101 class (balance, unity, focus, rhythm, proportion) bring these good and bad virtues into the discussion.


Adapted from page 78 of The Designful Company: How to build a culture of nonstop innovation
by Marty Neumeier

Issue Boards

Justice as a Design Virtue

Beyond Duty and Virtue in Design Ethics

Humanistic Virtues in Information Graphics

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