The style of a design can make it feel like it belongs in a time and place. Styling can also cause a design to look foreign and awkward. For a product, service, or system to be successful, its style should match its intended context. If a 1980s-themed t-shirt design is effectively styled, it will feel like a retro version of the 80s. If the 1980s styling is not well-executed, the shirt will look like a tired version of the 80s—not a cool retro style but an embarrassing knock-off. Details define a design outcome’s style. They set the way the design “feels.”

Researching Style

Research to determine style helps designers pinpoint what makes it distinctive and unique. This can reveal if a design is out of place in a context.

Questions to Ask

  • Does the style make clear what the outcome was designed to do?
  • Is it clear who the design is for?
  • What details about the style make it distinctive?
  • What is the look and feel of the design?
  • Does it feel retro? Urban? Sleek and modern?

Look For…

  • Color choices
  • Materials
  • Typography
  • Composition
  • References to style from a time in history
  • Hints that the design should feel futuristic
  • Details that represent masculinity or femininity
  • Ways the design’s style suggests it is for specific people and not for others



Updated: June 19, 2024 7:07 am
casette tape on color background
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