One of the most important elements in design in my opinion is that it must get across a message to a user. You could create the most beautiful site or brochure but if the message is wrong or there is no structure to the information you may has well have produced it in Word with Comic Sans and a photocopier.
I do some design work for a charity, they insist that all brochure type must be a least 11 pt or more, there can be no background tints (unless very pale) and no white text reversed out of black. They insist on this, as one of the symptoms of the disease the charity represents, can be poor, blurred or double vision. So when I design, I hate the way the body copy looks on the page, but it doesn’t matter what I think does it, I am not the one who needs to be able to read it. While the design aesthetics may not appeal to most, it is appropriate for the market.
I see some of the most beautiful typography in books, where type is overlaid, distorted and distressed, but could this be applied to many live projects? It could work well for perhaps gig posters, CDs or work aimed towards young people, but to supplement it more legible type would be required to convey the detail. Typography like this works well as a graphic/illustration but not as a source of information. Work along these lines if used inappropriately edges towards art rather than functional design.
At one of the companies I worked for in the past we used to do a lot of work for a large mobile phone company. To be honest I used to hate the work as it was all following a style and so therefore was fairly rigid in its design. I used to nearly always get these jobs to do (much to my disgust) as I was told I was good at organising information (I think they thought that would make me feel better). With so much information to convey it was necessary for each brochure to have a definite structure and hierarchy to the information.
So maybe the key to good design, far above beautiful graphics, is the organisation of information and the conveying of a message.
What do you think?