How to Convey Your Aesthetic Preferences

Sep 7, 2015Graphic Design

You’ve just started working with a designer and they’ve asked you to describe your style. “Flannel shirts” and “pretty things” are not acceptable answers, but you’re not a designer, that’s why you hired one! In this article I’m going to attempt to bridge the communication gap between you (super talented business owner) and me (design obsessed human). We’re going to take a look at some design fundamentals and discuss a some essential vocabulary to help you communicate and collaborate with your designer more effectively.

Step One: Defining Your “Style”

Modern. Funky. Playful. Classic. Retro. Soothing. Crazy! Elegant. Boxy. Simple. Dense. Minimal. Colorful… The list could go on forever! For virtually every adjective there’s a corresponding style. To narrow things down for you, I’m going to generalize what I believe to be the three most essential (and distinct) design categories; Classic Corporate, Modern Minimal, Modern Playful.

Modern Minimal: Bold and Simple


This is a perfect example of the classic corporate aesthetic. We see a good amount of white space, minimal use of color, strong serif typefaces, a black and white image, and a clear call-to-action button above the fold. This type of aesthetic is perfect for a law office, insurance salesmen, financial management specialist, etc.

Modern Playful: Colorful, Creative and Dynamic


I more affectionately refer to this genre as the “Hipster Style”. This aesthetic can be extremely diverse, but is typified by it’s use of full screen images, sans serif typefaces (often directly over the images), simple navigations, transparent call to actions, and retro photo filters. Personally, I feel that there is a lot of potential within this aesthetic to craft extremely compelling and engaging websites. The most important thing to remember if “Modern Minimal” is your style too is that an enormous emphasis will be placed upon the images, so investing in professional photography is a must!

Classic Corporate Design: Clean, Trustworthy, Informative


This is another style that I just LOVE! Modern playful websites are characterized by their upbeat color schemes and textures, unique use of shapes and images, and dynamic user experience. Brands with this aesthetic come across as youthful and fun, while still maintaining a professional appearance.

To view examples from any of these genres I highly recommend searching on Pinterest! Mtn. Dog Media has created a plethora of inspirational design boards and quick searches for “modern websites” or “branding” will reveal an infinite library of examples. Create your own Pinterest board of design examples you like and share it with your designer to convey your aesthetic preferences!