The Golden Ratio is the secret, silver bullet for refined design and balanced aesthetics. It's on display in great works of art like the Mona Lisa. Even the Apple logo leans on the Golden Ratio for mathematical order. At least that's what you've been told. FastCo Design's John Brownlee has news for you though: "It's bullshit."
Once you dig into the facts and the inconvenient truths of history, it's rather clear that the Golden Ratio is a bit of a scam. In Brownlee's words, "The idea that the golden ratio has any relationship to aesthetics at all comes primarily from two people, one of whom was misquoted, and the other of whom was just making shit up." There's also little hard psychological evidence to support the idea that humans prefer the look of designs that incorporate the Golden Ratio. But people believe it, because it makes them feel better.
To read the gritty details on the truth behind the Golden Ratio, click over to FastCo Design. In the meantime, here are some real tips for making aesthetically pleasing images. It's more than just one simple formula.