How do you make anything taste better? Just add sugar to it. That’s the simple trick that big players in the food industry use to make everything tastier. Nowadays sugar is in everything: in burgers, in soft drinks, in skimmed milk, in mayonnaise, even in baby food!
In 1822 the average American consumed about 45g of sugar every five days. Today, that number is 756g!
Our brain constantly craves sugar, so we get addicted to the food that contains it (brain scans show that sugar is as addictive as cocaine). Sugar has no nutritional value, so this only results in higher profits for food producers and loads of health problems for consumers. There’s a brilliant a documentary about this — Fed Up.
How do you make any design better? Just add sugar to it. Visual sugar.
What is visual sugar?
Visual sugar is any visual decorative element. The most common types of visual sugar are icons, gradients, shadows, textures, motion etc.
Designers sometimes use them in a meaningless and excessive way to make their designs feel nicer. The word ‘meaningless’ is key here. There’s nothing wrong with any of these per se, it’s just that they are used to sweeten otherwise flavorless and meaningless designs.
Why does it happen? Well, we’ve all been in this situation: you’ve started working on a design and it feels a bit bland. What do you do? How about adding some icons, maybe some gradients and shadows? It might seem that you’ve made your design better, but in fact, you just disguised a shallow design.