In high school, we all wrote that essay on “Science and everyday life” where we always wrote “Science is everywhere”; but perhaps sometimes we wonder, “Where is the science in that? Or that?” This article is for those skeptics who wonder where the science is in graphic design. This is part one and there will be more in this series. These articles will discuss the necessities and existing science in graphic design. The scientific theories that every graphic designer should know and can apply in their design for a better outcome will be discussed along the way.
Occam's razor is a problem-solving principle attributed by William of Ockham. In science, occam’s razor is used as a discovery tool, which is what graphic designers do, they discover a new design from their ideas. The basic concept of occam’s razor is that “the simplest solution is usually the best solution.”
How do we apply that in Graphic Design?
Assuming that a designer is working on a logo, s/he can have many ideas. Some of them can be very simple, some can be abstract and some can be very complicated. A lot of designers will eliminate the simple ideas right away. The application of occam’s razor is that instead of eliminating those ideas, go ahead with them and experiment with them. At least 50% clients prefer simple designs.
There are not one but a thousand designing examples that will vouch for the occam’s razor principle and the principle of simplicity being the best branding. The first one in that list will be NIKE.
It was designed in 1971 and hasn’t been changed. Today it’s one of the most popular branding logos in the world. It’s just a simple ‘Tick’ sign and that simplicity has worked in it’s favour.
Another simple design yet surprisingly successful. According to Steve Jobs, Apple was named as such because Jobs was coming back from an apple farm, and he was on a fruitarian diet. He thought the name was "fun, spirited and not intimidating". The logo was designed with a bite so that it would not be confused with a cherry.
It’s probably one of the most simplest logo to be ever created. The company is called APPLE and the logo is simply an apple. And that didn’t stand in its way of success. If anything, it boosted it. Of course sometimes the simple ideas don’t work, sometimes the client himself wants something sophisticated. However you are working, one way or another, the occam’s razor principle applies to it all.
Part two of this series will focus on Golden Ratio and how it applies in graphic design. Stay tuned for more practical applications of science in graphic design.