Sometimes designs are created to be aesthetically pleasing. When designing, I consider how my designs can add meaning to written content rather than being decoration alone. Great design pulls people into a message. Information design more deeply conveys that message.
“Great design is a multi-layered relationship between human life and its environment.” –Naoto Fukasawa
Users have a basic intuition to know whether or not a design is good or bad. Effective, unified, and interesting designs can help build credibility for an organization. The best designs are the least distracting to users, allowing them to navigate your content with ease. To ensure I create professional designs, I use the design principles of contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity (described below).
Information design adds meaning to content through graphs, charts, and supporting graphics. In some ways, this kind of design is telling a story about the reality of the world. When I use design to communicate information, I consider how every design choice I make can help or distract users from understanding the story being told.
Design can bring forth emotions faster than words. For instance, colors influence mood. An image communicates something before words are even read. When communicating certain messages, I consider how design can evoke emotions in an audience to enhance the content presented.
Basic Design Principles
I use the following design principles from Robin Williams’s book The Non-designer’s Design Book to ensure a positive user experience. However, these rules are broken at times. Poor designers make careless decisions. Strong designers see the opportunity to break rules when the decision will further the the message they are trying to communicate.
Contrast is important in design to ensure readability and accessibility. Without enough contrast it may be impossible for people to read your content and distinguish between different page elements. When creating a color pallet, it is important to consider what colors complement each other and create an effective contrast for readers.
Repetition does not mean everything has to look the same. Instead the principle suggests using common elements (such as a color palette and typographic hierarchy) to create unity among different deliverables. This cohesion helps build a brand and credibility. Through the use of repetition, confusion is avoided and stakeholders begin to immediately connect certain designs with your brand.
Imagine if every column of text in a document was angled in a different direction…the effect would be chaotic. The principle of alignment recognizes the human eye takes in information most effectively when it’s well organized. In addition, this organization will make designs seem more professional.
When a design presents a lot of information, related content should be grouped together. This is because people usually recognize items close together as related information. Designing with proximity in mind helps provide clarity and context to content.