What is a pragmatic design approach?

We want to know why design can be so divisive and identify how navigating through that part of the process can be tricky for clients and agencies, perhaps amid the opinion, there’s a mutual standpoint to fall back on?

Article Info

May 15, 2023 4 mins

What we will cover


“I will know it when I see it.”

“Can we just…”

“Could the logo be bigger?”


Never have I checked in with one of our developers to hear that the client has a particular opinion on the code used to underpin their website. 

And yet when it comes to design, I have seen projects falter and disappear before a piece of code gets written or the design file makes its way to the printers.

Anchored in our senses and feelings

And it’s hardly surprising that we all have an opinion on design, our dependence on our sense of vision is skewed, with approximately 80% of what we learn from the world mediated through our vision.

Most of us consume the world in pictures.

Of the information we retain over 3 days, images are retained by 65% of people, whilst just 10% of us remember what we heard.

It is no wonder then that the massive brands with big budgets for screen adverts remain firmly in our heads.

Designers & feedback

For every great piece of client feedback that every designer receives they will get ten that need addressing for various constraints around brand, medium or just a clash of best design practice. 

I speak with other designers in the industry, frustrated with the same old comments, some dig their heels in and profess for clients to trust them as they are the experts.

However, the client will have their say (and so they should), they will be footing the bill and don’t want to feel unheard and corralled towards the designer’s vision. 

Showing the client the wrong way can be risky too, I have mocked up an example of why something shouldn’t work only to receive rapturous applause and a difficult cul de sac to navigate out of.

There’s a need for balance on both sides. We wouldn’t tell the Michelin star chef how to prepare the seafood course, nor should the chef send out a slightly butchered skate because they got bad feedback on the starter.

The designers’ tightrope

Being inclusive

Inclusive design creates space to explore open ideas between the designer and client.

This is a commitment of time, energy and education on the designers part – the latter a skill they may have little interest in having dedicated all their waking hours to their trade.  

Creating quality

The risk of being too inclusive leaves the client in control of the journey and may result in going down a path the designer can already see that may be a dead end, resulting in time (and money) being spent on a poor-quality output or abandoned idea.

Quality design needs to start with a clear brand, so many of the creative ideas contradict the very framework of consistency for an organisation. 

If the brand dictates a style, a voice, a purpose – then the client will get their ideas processed through the brand style, guaranteeing they will get what is important to them in the output and giving the designer a firmer set of parameters to work within.

Purpose and point

Pragmatic design needs to tread the line of both of the above and (very importantly with the web), avoid the potential whizziness that papers over poor quality content and is inaccessible to so many users.  

Design is divisive, personal, and deeply impactful. It says to someone instinctively that this is me, and if it appeals to you we are on the same page.

What a magical tool to help a customer decide if they are aligned with you and ready to part with a very valuable asset – their cash.

And that’s where Design is most important, conversion. 

So, next time you find yourself between a rock and hard place, take all opinions off the table and ask the customer’s opinion.

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