Saturday, August 16, 2008

Notes On Design

A summary of The Non-Designers Design Book by Robin Williams. The four basic principles of design are: Proximity, Alignment, Repetition and Contrast – PARC.


The purpose of proximity is to organize. Elements that are intellectually connected should be visually connected. Unrelated elements should not be in close proximity. The closeness or lack of closeness indicates the relationship. Equal amounts of whitespace between elements indicate that they are part of a subset.


The purpose of alignment is to unify and organize. Every element on a page should have visual alignment with another item on the page. Nothing should be placed on the page arbitrarily. Find a strong line, such as a graphic, and use it.


The purpose of repetition is to unify and to add visual interest. Repetition is being consistent. Examples are headlines, list items, page numbering, etc. Repetition can be accomplished with a mere suggestion of a repeated element. It is not necessary to use the whole thing.


The purpose of contrast is to create interest. If two items are not exactly the same then make them very different. Contrasted elements can often be used with repetition in the page.

Using Color

Get to know the color wheel. Good color combinations are:

  • Complementary colors – two color on opposite sides of the color wheel.
  • Triads – three colors equidistant from each other.
  • Split complement triads – two colors on each side of the complement instead of the complement.
  • Analogous colors – three colors next to each other on the wheel.

Use shades (black added) and tints (white added) to vary the combinations above. Be aware that cool colors recede into the background and warm colors come to the front.

Using Fonts

Fonts can be categorized into roughly six categories:

  • Oldstyle with slated serifs.
  • Modern with horizontal serifs.
  • Slab Serif with fat horizontal serifs.
  • Sans Serif without serifs.
  • Script looks like handwriting.
  • Decorative are crazy fonts like Zapf Dingbats

Never use two different fonts from the same category on the same page.

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