5 Tips on How to Make Better Designs from Nikki Solinap

Words by: Arielle Choy / Photos by: Chloe King / Graphics by: Clarence Abiera

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At first glance, designing might seem very intimidating. Especially if you are someone like me who isn’t really particularly artistic, being tasked to come up with a good design may seem really challenging. Because of how much pressure is involved in design, many just give up altogether. We choose to not even try at all and chalk it up to our “lack of creativity.”

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Designer Nikki Solinap disagrees with that sentiment. Solinap, who is a graduate of BFA Information Design from Ateneo de Manila University, was also the graphic design editor and design executive editor of The Guidon, the university’s official newspaper. According to her, design is actually something that can be learned. With enough practice, Solinap believes that anyone can be a good designer.

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During her talk with the WIMterns, Solinap shared some helpful advice on designing to help budding designers or those who simply want to learn how design works.

5 Tips on How to Make Better Designs

5. The user comes first.

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According to Solinap, a good piece of design always has its users in mind before anything else. When you’re creating a design, it is very important for you to be able to put yourself in your potential users’ shoes. Finding out your users’ wants and needs and incorporating these things into your design make a big difference in terms of its success. Since the users will be the people interacting with your design,  it is also very important to to ask for feedback from them on changes and improvements you can make.

4. Design should be good for something. NIKKI SOLINAP 02

Because each design has targeted users, your design should have a function. The functionality of a design is measured with success indicators that judge whether it effectively fulfills the users’ needs or not. Nikki says that a good design’s function must be effective, meaning that it either solves or addresses a need or a problem often encountered by the users.

She also says that good design must be “invisible” to users in a way that it addresses their needs without them noticing it. 

3. Design should have good form.NIKKI SOLINAP 03

Aside from simply addressing the users’ needs, great design should also have good form. Users must be comfortable using the design; otherwise, they won’t even bother trying it out in the first place. According to Nikki, a design has good form if the design itself is delightful. This means that the users enjoy using the design and feel drawn to it in a way that they will willingly choose to use it.

Nikki also says that a good design is intuitive. Just by looking at the design, users should be able to understand how it works and how to use it. To make a great design, form and functionality should go hand in hand and work together.

2. Everything can be used as inspiration.

As with everything else in life, the only way to improve your designing skills is through practice. Nikki stresses the importance of being able to effectively articulate thoughts into designs by constantly challenging yourself to design new things. Inspiration can be hard to come by, though.

Based on her own experiences, Nikki says that inspiration can actually be found everywhere. Having an open mind and a sense of wonder is really helpful in finding inspiration. She also suggests consuming lots of media like books and films, which can be really helpful in helping you find ideas for your next design.

1. Great design is something more than itself.
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Instead of just being a piece of work, great design is much more than that. According to Nikki, great design is inclusive, meaning that it takes into account the varying needs of different people. It is basically socially conscious. Great design is also something that strives to be resourceful and eco-friendly. In short, great design is something that has social impact and aims to make a difference in society. 

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(READ: 10 Graphic Design Lessons to Learn from Classic Break-up Lines)

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With these awesome tips from Nikki Solinap, we can all be one step closer to being great designers. All it takes is a little study and hard work. With some patience and practice; eventually, you can also proudly call yourself a true designer.

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