Aesthetics, organization, structure, compatibility, mobile-friendliness, best practices, minimalism, typography, color choice, drop shadows, rounded corners, responsiveness, usability, user experience, CSS3, HTML5, jQuery — none of those things is integral to what ultimately falls into the category of “good design”.
What matters the most — that is, what truly puts anything in the category of “good design” — is whether or not the thing you’ve designed achieves the end result you desire.
If you designed a web app to attract 100,000 registrations in the first year of its launch, and it achieves that result in a secure manner (thanks Matt), then it has a good design — regardless of how it actually looks or functions.
If you designed a web site to become a source of reference for professionals in a specific industry, and they visit it in droves and find it useful, then it has a good design — regardless of how ugly it is or how difficult it is to navigate.
If you designed a mobile app to be downloaded or purchased by x number of people in its first year of release, and it is indeed downloaded x number of times in that year, then it has a good design — regardless of how complicated it is, or how impractical it seems.
If you designed a skyscraper that’s meant to lease office space for up to 500 different businesses in the first five years after it’s built, and its rooms are fully occupied after five years (and assuming it’s secure — Matt again), then it has a good design — regardless of its color, shape, or whether or not it was featured in Architecture Weekly.
If a 4-year old girl paints a picture of a horse for her mom and dad, and she shows it to them and their eyes light up and mommy says “Good job, dear! We love it!”, and the parents display the painting on their refrigerator and it stays there for many months, then it has a good design — regardless of whether or not you can actually see a horse in the painting.
What’s Your Take?
Keeping in mind that “good design” falls somewhere in between “bad design” and “great design”, what’s your definition of “good design”?