Four Desktop Publishing Design Elements that Everyone Needs to Know Presented by Jerry Smith
Where We’re Going • Focus on four basic design elements • Contrast • Repetition • Alignment • Proximity • Examples of Each • Simple changes make a HUGE difference
The Big Four • Contrast • Repetition • Alignment • Proximity There is no clever acronymn: You’ll have to figure that one out on your own…
Before I Begin… • Framework by Robin Williams • Buy this Book: Non-Designer’s Design Book • ISBN: 0321193857
Subjectivity • Yep, most of this is quite subjective • These elements provide structured options • Even if you don’t get it right the first shot, you’ll know some things you can change to create an entirely different look • Eliminates poke-and-hope mentality of design
Framework is to English… • True or False: The English language is always consistent? • These rules can (and should be) broken sometimes • It’s a framework, not a set of laws
Something is wrong… but you can’t put your finger on it. • In many cases, the thing that’s wrong is one of these elements • By having a name for the broken elements, you’ll find that it is much easier to fix • The four elements overlap quite a bit • This is a very good thing. It leads to near infinite possibilities.
Contrast (the king element) • By definition, refers to the degree of noticeable differences in something • There are lots of ways to provide contrast • Color • Alignment • Typography (fonts) • Size • Shape
Color Contrast A simple logo with no contrast
Color Contrast Same simple logo with color contrast
A little contrast goes a long way Before After
Alignment Contrast • For years, most of us have been conditioned to believe that centering everything is the way to go:
Alignment Contrast • But centering everything is overly formal and boring! With a little alignment contrast:
A Tale of Two Alignments Before After
A Tale of Two (More) Alignments Before After
Typography Contrast • Choose fonts that differ greatly! • Bad: Times New Roman and Garamond • Good: Times New Roman and Comic Sans MS • Most common typography contrast involves serif vs. sans-serif
One Small Change of Font Before After
A pinch of font, a dash of color! Before After
Size Contrast • Just as with fonts, if you’re going to do size contrasts, make it count!!! • Two basic reasons to use size contrast: • Emphasis • Shock Value (Stress)
Yawn to Yay! Before After
Shape Contrast • Angular vs. Rounded
Contrast Review • Differences stand out • Emphasis • Stress • Color is easy • Be really different with • Fonts • Sizes
Repetition • By definition, to repeat • The antithesis of Contrast • Humans like patterns • Makes things very comfortable • The thing you see the most without realizing it • The silent design element!
Things to Repeat • Colors • Fonts • Shapes • Sizes • Humans are very good at intrinsically associating a repeated element with its function
What’s repeated? • The page number formatting • The heading font, size, and weight • The body text font and size • The weight of emphasized text
Repetition Review • Create patterns where patterns are important • Headings • Body • Other stuff • Main Menu and Navigational Elements should be repeated • Be careful not to overdo!
Proximity • By definition, the spatial relationship between items • Human beings naturally make associations between proximate objects • The closer things are to one another, the more they must be related • Good designs exploit this intrinsic trait
Bye-bye extra box! Before After
What about Alignment? • What about it! • Think about the other three elements we’ve discussed… • Alignment can be • Contrasted • Repeated • Used to create proximation
How Do We Teach This Stuff • As with everything else: Patiently • Tackle individually at first • Don’t go over all in one day • Possibly a week long unit?? • One element per day with examples and practice • Tie them together on Friday
Pavlov’s Children • Give specific praise for using the elements • “I really like your use of contrast there, Sally” • “Nice proximity with your grouping of information, George!” • The framework is great for constructive criticism • “Think about what kind of contrast you could use here.” • “Is there something you could do to make this information seem more related?”
In Review… • Focus on four basic design elements • Contrast • Repetition • Alignment • Proximity • It’s all subjective • Simple changes make a HUGE difference
In Review… • The framework is a tool, not a crutch • Teach it slowly and consistently • Don’t become a slave to it: HAVE FUN!
Thanks for playing along! • Any questions or comments?