Don’t show everything
Jaws would never have worked if Steven Spielberg had CGI. Lucky for cinematic history, it was quite the opposite. With just a moderate budget, Spielberg had to figure out how to make a realistic thriller about a killer shark.
And so he used perhaps the most powerful tool in every storyteller’s toolbox: the audience’s imagination.
Jaws became such a scary movie, not because of what we saw, but because of what we didn’t see. We mostly just saw the fin and only when he really had to, did Spielberg show us the shark’s wide open jaws. Everything else was filled in by our minds.
As designers, we are often tempted to design everything, even before we have convinced our stakeholders of our concept. We forget that sometimes, it’s not about what we show, but about what we don’t show. So our stakeholders can fill in the blanks themselves. No matter how good our design, it may never match our audience’s imagination.