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Steven Bradley is the author of Design Fundamentals: Elements, Attributes, & Principles. He's a web designer and WordPress developer who moved to Boulder, Colorado to be near the mountains. He blogs at Vanseo Design and owns and operates a small business forum helping people learn how to run and market their business better.

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Part TwoDesign Principles: Space And The Figure-Ground Relationship

If you see graphic design as a process of arranging shapes on a canvas, then you’re only seeing half of what you work with. The negative space of the canvas is just as important as the positive elements that we place on the canvas.

Design Principles: Space And The Figure-Ground Relationship

Design is an arrangement of both shapes and space. To work more effectively with space, you must first become aware of it and learn to see it — learn to see the shapes that space forms and how space communicates. This is second part of a series on design principles for beginners. The first part covered an introduction to gestalt; the rest of the series (including this post) will build on those gestalt principles and show how many of the fundamental principles we work with as designers have their origin there.

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Part OneDesign Principles: Visual Perception And The Principles Of Gestalt

This article is part of a new series about design principles that can serve both as a refresher for seasoned designers and reference for newcomers to the industry. Hopefully, the content covered here isn't too obvious and self-explanatory, but it's always great to have a nice quick refresher every now and again, isn't it? — Ed.

Design Principles: Visual Perception And The Principles Of Gestalt

In 1910, psychologist Max Wertheimer had an insight when he observed a series of lights flashing on and off at a railroad crossing. It was similar to how the lights encircling a movie theater marquee flash on and off.

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How To Maintain Hierarchy Through Content Choreography

One of the issues we need to be concerned with in responsive design is how to maintain hierarchy as elements on the screen are resized and reflowed. Trent Walton first called attention to the issue with his post “Content Choreography,” which showed how visual hierarchy gets lost when columns are dropped below one another.

Maintaining Hierarchy Through Content Choreography

While techniques exist to help with part of the problem, the solution also requires conscious thought in how you structure blocks of content in your HTML. You need to think about how you’ll want to rearrange blocks of content as your design moves from single to multiple columns.

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Exploration Of Single-Page Websites

We tend to think of navigating a website as clicking from page-to-page via some kind of global navigation that's always visible. When it comes to a single page, we often think scrolling is the one and only way to move from one end to the next. Sometimes global navigation and scrolling are the best, most appropriate ways to move about, (however, they aren't the only ways).

Navigation Patterns In Single-Page Websites

The websites in this article let you scroll, but they also provide alternative ways of finding cues and means for getting around. In several cases the designs encourage exploration, which is both more engaging and also teaches you how to navigate at the same time.

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Designing For A Hierarchy Of Needs

Based on Maslow's hierarchy of needs, the idea of a design hierarchy of needs rests on the assumption that in order to be successful, a design must meet basic needs before it can satisfy higher-level needs. Before a design can "Wow" us, it must work as intended. It must meet some minimal need or nothing else will really matter.

design-hierarchy-of-needs

Is this true? Or could a design that's hard to use still succeed because it makes users more proficient or meets certain creative needs? Do you have to get all of the low-level needs exactly right before considering higher-level needs? To answer these questions, let's start by looking at Maslow's hierarchy. In his 1943 paper, "A Theory of Human Motivation," American psychologist Abraham Maslow proposed the idea of a psychological hierarchy of needs in human beings.

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Does Form Follow Function?

You've likely heard the phrase "form follows function," but have you really thought about what it means or what it implies about Web design? On the surface, "form follows function" seems to make a lot of sense. The way something looks should be determined by its purpose. Is this really true? Does the phrase hold up upon deeper inspection?

Plaza de Castilla (Madrid)

In the context of designing a website, "form follows function" is often taken to mean that the designer should first gather the website's requirements from the client and then determine the aesthetics of the website based on those "functional" requirements. While that's certainly good practice, is "form follows function" really being applied? Are client requirements the "function" of a website or something else?

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