Does the "Wow Factor" Equal Good Design?

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Mythbusting - The Wow Factor

I believe we are living in a time that puts too much emphasis on the “Wow Factor”. The Cambridge Dictionary’s definition of the "Wow Factor” reads as follows: a quality or feature of something that makes people feel great excitement or admiration. We expect it from so many things – most of which were never intended to deliver such a bold promise. For instance, when I go shopping for clothes, I am not looking to be “wowed”. What I am looking for is quality, selection, reasonable prices and good service. And, like you, I frequent a variety of well-appointed, well-stocked and well-staffed establishments that typically provide a pleasant shopping experience. Did I feel excitement or admiration during that time? Sometimes, but not very often.

Wow Often Has Humble Beginnings... 

When it comes to working with a designer it appears that many clients are also expecting the “Wow Factor”. On several branding projects that I’ve been involved with over the years I’ve heard clients say, “We want you to wow us – we want our version of the Nike swoosh!” What most people don’t know is that the Nike swoosh, like many logos, had a very humble beginning. Phil Knight, the co-founder of Nike who commissioned the work, had this to say when he first saw the logo, “I don’t love it, but I think it will grow on me.” It's interesting to see how years of advertising and big budgets will make things "grow on us."

Rather than expecting the "Wow Factor" clients should be expecting design solutions that are brand appropriate, original and memorable.

The Benchmark for Any Good Design Project

The acclaimed German product designer for BRAUN, Dieter Rams, developed a list of what he felt constituted the 10 Principles of Good Design. This list makes for an excellent benchmark for any design project. 


1.   Good Design is Innovative

2.   Good Design Makes a Product Useful  

3.   Good Design Is Aesthetic

4.   Good Design Makes A Product Understandable

5.   Good Design Is Unobtrusive 

6.   Good Design Is Honest 

7.   Good Design Is Long-lasting 

8.   Good Design Is Thorough Down to the Last Detail 

9.   Good Design Is Environmentally Friendly 

10. Good Design Is as Little Design as Possible

It’s better for designers to stay focused on a list like Dieter Ram’s and deliver the real goods. Thoughtful, meaningful design solutions will when the race every time.


Let’s leave the “Wow Factor” to the likes of Cirque du Soleil and Simone Biles...



Author: Bob Hambly 
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