Over time, PowerPoint had a catastrophic effect on the quality of graphic design. In short, this software made it possible for anyone to create designs and layouts, the result of which was a lowering of the bar.
Would you design an office building without hiring an architect?
Graphic designers use interpretive and conceptual skills to create visual solutions to communications problems. They find the most effective method for conveying information. They use a variety of techniques to achieve results based on their understanding of color, typography, illustration, photography, animation, layout, and media.
Professional designers know how to use the principles of design to communicate a message, present data, or elicit a desired response. It's not impossible for an amatuer to achieve the same results, but it's less likely.
What constitutes good design?
The message must be clear. Whether a poster, brochure, logo, or Chicago Website Design — the design should emphasize the message.
The basic principles of graphic design apply to all design disciplines — writing, graphics, art and architecture, even fashion and poetry. The principles of design are tools we use to format the elements of design (color, shape, texture, etc.). Here are some of the essentials:
Balance is based on the notion, "the whole is the sum of its parts." Using balance, design elements or the "parts" are organized to create a whole that has equilibrium.
Similar to balance, good proportion maintains an agreeable relation of parts within the whole. It's the consideration of parts in relation to the whole.
Contrast, created when elements are combined, provides necessary variety. Without contrast, even good design can be boring (or worse, ineffectual). While balance and proportion help to maintain cohesiveness, contrast adds interest.
Perhaps most important to overall quality of design — as important as emphasis, but overlooked by many designers — is space. Including space (often called white space) in a design provides its other elements with all the characteristics listed above. More often than not, a graphic design fails without space.
While the principles listed above are vital, they are not comprehensive. Thousands of books have been published on the subject of graphic design; depending on your interests and needs, seek out one or more of these for study.