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Chapter 1: Why Design Matters

Given that you’re reading this book, you probably don’t need much convincing that design is, in fact, important. Good design has clearly been fundamental to the success of many of the world’s largest companies, and interest in and awareness of design has exploded during the past couple decades. But exactly what kind of impact can design have? More important, what really defines the bounds of design?

Skillful use of good design can create experiences that are emotionally moving. At the same time, good design – through improved communication and clarity – can make things easier to use. The characteristics of good design can bring increased credibility to your company and ultimately influence the decisions of your customers. Skillful use of good design can affect emotions, build credibility, and earn trust. Finally, good design can actually make things easier to use. But to really achieve these results, you have to understand design holistically.

I witnessed firsthand the power of design in one of the world’s oldest functioning buildings. While I was studying the origins of modern typography in Rome, my studio was just a few blocks from the Pantheon. I spent hours sitting inside the building and people-watching. I’m not normally entertained by watching people, but inside the Pantheon, watching people is a different experience than it is elsewhere. Why? Because people-watching in the Pantheon gives you the opportunity to see the reactions of people who ...

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