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This category features articles on general design principles, Web design, typography, user interface design and related topics. It also presents design showcases and practical pieces on the business side of design. Curated by Alma Hoffmann.
Symmetry is the ordering principle in nature that represents the center of balance between two or more opposing sides. As a fundamental design principle, it permeates everything: from man-made architecture to natural crystalline formations. In nature, symmetry exists with such precision and beauty that we can’t help but attribute it to intelligence–such equal proportions and organization would seem to be created only on purpose. Consequently, humans have borrowed this principle for its most iconic creations and symbols.
There are several types of symmetry, but the most basic are translation, reflection and rotational. Each of them has specific and practical expressions in nature, and each can be used to communicate intuitive principles when appropriately and subtly integrated in a design. As a simple aesthetic, these opposites that work together can add visual appeal.
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.
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.
Creative types have a problem. We have so many great ideas, but most of them never see the light of day. Why do most ideas never happen? The reason is that our own creative habits get in the way. For example, our tendency to generate new ideas often gets in the way of executing the ones we have. As a result, we abandon many projects halfway through. Whether a personal website, a new business idea or a long-dreamt novel, most of these projects stagnate and become a source of frustration.
Some creative people and teams are able to defy the odds and make their ideas happen, time and again. In my work, I have spent the better part of five years meeting these exceptional people and chronicling their habits and insight, which has resulted in the following tips and suggestions for making ideas happen.
Apps will define the iPad, it's true. But in developing your app idea, which comes first, the idea or the device? Good news: neither. It's people! When brainstorming and researching ideas for your app, step back and consider the context in which the device will be used by real live people. How does the iPad fit into our lives? In what situations would we prefer this device to a laptop or iPod Touch?
In the current landscape of technology and accessing the Internet through devices such as picture frames, netbooks, cell phones and televisions, the benefits of Web standards outweigh those of Flash, especially when delivering content to a broad audience on various devices.
Flash is a proprietary product that sits on top of the browser to extend functionality. While Flash may have provided missing functionality for some time, it brings little value to modern browsers. As more and more designers and developers realize the benefits of Web standards and start using some of the features of HTML5 and CSS3, we’ll see fewer Flash-driven websites.
Progress is good, but we need to make sure that we're progressing in the right direction. Our fundamental skills and the craft of design have started to take a back seat. Using the right tools and techniques is certainly an important part of design. But do our tools and resources make us better designers? Taking a close look at the current state of design, we can see that sometimes modern design tools and processes do more harm than good.
Please note that in preparing this article, we presented basic questions to designers, from beginner to expert, in an unscientific poll. Close to 600 designers participated.
As a teenager, I loved comic books: the art, the stories, the super-powers I wished I had. I remember the point when I went from reading and enjoying comics to wanting to create them. I became obsessed with being able to draw exactly like the great comic book artists of that time, people like Jim Lee.
A business card in some cases is the most important marketing piece that a company will have. It has the potential to make or break business deals, and is just as important as the way you present yourself during a first impression. In this post, we will cover some of the basics such as typography, layout, object placement and printing standards when designing a business card.
Before you move too far into a fresh design, printing standards should always be considered. Most printing companies now require files to have appropriate bleeds and margins or your might get an email to upload new files and in some cases, incur extra fees. To correctly set up your design, you need to download or create a template. There are two ways to establish what type of template you are going to use, and that is whether you are going to have image bleed or not. Bleed is the area in which an image runs off the edge of your design. If your image doesn't bleed then your job just got a little easier. Use a 3.5×2 document. If you are using bleeds, then make sure your template is set up with a 1/8" margin outside the printable area. You can download a sample template here.
Lately I have been getting bored and annoyed with people getting up in arms against Web standards and the ideas of progressive enhancement, claiming that they hold us back from creating a rich, beautiful Web. There are also claims that these tools limit us from pushing the boundaries of what is possible with today’s technologies.
The problem with claims such as these is that they are based on a misunderstanding of standards and progressive enhancement and ― at least to me ― on arrogance and ignorance about what our job on the Web is. The Web is out there for everybody and is a product and a medium like any other.
For example, I am a big film buff and love good movies. I also understand, though, that in order to fund great movies we have to make money from terrible ones that appeal to the lowest common denominator or rehash ideas that were successful in the past.
Banner ads, also known as display ads or image ads, are image-based advertisements that are widely popular online. Why are banner ads so popular? They are a cost-effective way to allow advertisers to attractively display their products and services online across an array of websites. Additionally, banner ads allow for increased brand recognition and ad targeting.
Before jumping in and creating multiple banner ads there are a few recommendations to review first. You need to take into consideration the size and position of the advertisement, the context of the ad, the call to action, the file size, and other components. Outlined here are recommendations to help you design suitable ads, effective, and profitable advertisements.
Sketching and wireframing are a specialized style of drawing, used for fleshing out preliminary complex ideas, group brain-storming, a lo-fi method for evaluating interaction concepts, and as a way of roughly perfecting a design technique. [Links repaired March/23/2017]
Sketch and wireframe paper is essentially drawing paper that is designed specifically for this purpose. You could use it for web page design, web app design, architectural or structural design, graphic design, movie direction, animation... basically any type of design that needs a physical creative outlet or group collaboration.
Not all sketch and wireframe sheets are universal, most are specialized for a particular medium, such as storyboards and specialized grid paper (axonometric perspective templates).
Below you will find a concise collection of ready to print sketching, wireframing and note-taking templates. Most, as expected, are geared towards the design community, but there are also templates that could be used within any industry and for any purpose.
Ah, the dreaded cover letter. Boring to write, difficult to get right, and you're usually preoccupied by other things (such as the portfolio and resume, which are also really important). Unfortunately, your cover letter is a company's first exposure to you, and it determines whether your application is trashed or fast-tracked to the company's to-hire list. [Links checked February/15/2017]
The status of the cover letter is changing in the Web industry. While a well-formed cover letter still has a place, some companies believe that Web folk who rely on this archaic tool never make it to the next round. But what do I know? Let's hear instead from some great Web and design agencies to get their advice on creating a great cover letter!
Many developers and designers want to release their work into the world as open-source projects. They want others to be able to build on and share their code. The open-source community is vibrant because of this. Open-source software is available for virtually any application you could think of. Most designers use open-source software or code on a regular basis (WordPress, Drupal and many other CMS' are open source).
But many developers and designers don't have a clear picture of what the different open-source licenses really mean. What rights are they relinquishing when they choose an open-source license? Without knowing exactly what the licenses mean and how they're best applied, developers can't make informed decisions about which is best for their work.