Good design benefits just about everyone. Whether it’s wayfinding that helps you get to your gate at the airport to a beautiful website that is both appealing to the eye and functions well, artfully created objects and texts make our lives richer. Not to mention the fact that, because we make snap in a matter of milliseconds, design is crucial to customer opinions and, at the end of the day, sales. With the ubiquity of software like InDesign and Photoshop, even those who aren’t art school grads can make pretty things that please consumers. So why don’t they?
Some industries, by and large, simply refuse to raise the bar for their design. Which doesn’t mean there aren’t some people in each who aren’t doing it right, but it does mean that, on the whole, industries like food service and tourism have shrugged off the importance of design, continuing to cling to clip art and fonts popular in the early, early days of the internet. From Papyrus to drop-shadows as long as my arm, these industries are sticking with the classics, for better or (often) worse, even though just a small amount of Photoshop education could greatly improve their marketing.
Menus (especially for takeout) are the holy grail of unfortunate design. Though surely someone at almost any restaurant is proficient in Photoshop, the design lags behind, remaining not only unattractive, but often, illegible. Pizza menus barely tell you which toppings are available, delivery sandwiches look sad in their overly-exposed photos, made worse by the sheen of glossy cardstock.
Of course, not everyone in the food service industry has shirked fine design; these beautiful menus are inspirational and aspirational.
If you’ve ever gazed upon a magazine rack full of tri-fold brochures, you know that unappealing design looms like raincloud over the tourism industry. Pixelated images of otherwise majestic scenery have been stretched within an inch of their lives, logos are ill-placed and borderline unreadable. Maps to tell you where the place even is aren’t drawn to scale, leading to confusion and unintended detours. In tourism, clarity matters — after all, you’re mostly dealing with people who aren’t from around the area — and if you’re vying for the all-powerful vacation dollar, making your materials as beautiful and alluring as possible should be paramount.
To be fair, the music industry does have a long legacy of viewing concert posters and album art as just that — art. But in the interest of cutting costs, plenty of independent bands go the design route alone…and it shows. Posters created in color become impossible to make out when printed in black-and-white, information is difficult to find or missing altogether, and album art, which is now largely viewed online, is too low-resolution for our powerful smartphone screens. Pro tip for musicians: Learning photoshop is a really good idea.
Direct mail is, of course, an irritation — but it’s also often deeply unattractive, which arguably makes it even worse. Those half-sheet coupons — you know, the ones you throw in the recycling immediately — and fliers from grocery stores could potentially be much less offensive if they at least looked nice, or offered interesting information beyond a small discount. New typefaces, prettier photos, or other effects that made for a nicer overall look would be a welcome addition to the IRL inbox. Look, here’s a piece of direct mail that isn’t horrible to look upon. More like this, please!
Above image via Flickr