Assembly of Elements

21/01/2007

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This article is the the fourth and final of my series on the key elements of design. After having individually placed color, font and texture in the spotlight, it is just proper to culminate with something that will put all these elements together; after all, the reason why we dig into these elements one-by-one is so they can be put (together) into proper use in this thing we call design.

In conformity with the previous articles, this writing will stray from high-falluting assertations and focus only on the practical aspects.

VOCABULARY REVIEW

References such as this online dictionary provide several definitions of the word design. The ones relevant to our topic are as follows:

de·sign

  1. to prepare the preliminary sketch or the plans for (a work to be executed), especially to plan the form and structure of …

  2. to plan and fashion artistically or skillfully.

  3. organization or structure of formal elements in a work of art; composition.

  4. adaptation of means to a preconceived end.

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In the field of computer programming, web authoring and digital art, the definition of design should in essence encompass all of the above. That is, priority should not be of aesthetics alone. Rather, aesthetic value should be well balanced with that of functionality.

PURPOSE OF DESIGN

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The reason for design is what the designer should center on when putting all the bits and pieces together. In other words, what the end product is for should never be put aside during conceptualization and assembly. And what is the real purpose of design? Almost always, the answer would be and should be to stimulate the end user’s behavior. Projects are not made for self gratification; they are done to produce results. In the IT world, the result desired is for the finished project to make the viewer or user to do something such as buy a product, sign up for membership, or simply to convince them to believe in that thing which the project is about. This being the guiding rule, the choice of color, font and texture and their assembly should be such that the completed design is able to compel its audience to a desired action or conviction.

FROM SELECTION OF ELEMENTS TO ASSEMBLY

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Let’s say the specific desired end-user-behavior has been clearly identified. The challenge now is for the designer to balance visual appeal with usability. He has to come up with something that would create a purposeful blending of all his design elements; something that stimulate audience behavior, causing them to reflect and interact with what they see.

Some pointers to consider when blending in design elements:

  • Chose colors that speak of the product in question. Keep in mind that some colors actually conflict with some ideas. For instance, the color blue should not be used in themes about food. Blue ruins the appetite. That is why you would seldom see blue-colored food.

  • Limit the use of special fonts to headings and titles or logos. For the majority of the text, chose fonts that have a general appeal.

  • Textures should be used sparingly. Only the newbies and mediocre designers would be too excited to use a whole selection of (contrasting) textures at the same time.

  • If you put one element on top of another, make sure they don’t bleed into each other. They should be matching in their conceptual value but should maintain distinct visibility.

  • Do not stray from you general motif. If you are designing for Valentine’s be careful not to use green in a way that will make you end up having something for Christmas.

You can only achieve real aesthetic appeal if you have assembled everything harmoniously. Anything contradicting is hurting to the eyes.

FINAL CHECK

Before posting your work, close everything and then reopen. View your page from a bit of distance and contemplate if you have assembled meaningfully. Think like a viewer and see for yourself if your design is compelling enough to elicit the desired response. If it has flaws, go back to the drawing board and redo what has to be redone.

  • Do your individual design elements speak the same thought? Do they agree with one another? All conflicts must be resolved. check.jpg

  • Does your design, in its totality, communicate the exact thing that should be said? Will it not mislead your audience?

  • Is information communicated in an effective (and easy) way? Make sure your end-user does not need to do any trial-and-error or guessing.

Note that all items in this checklist are in regard to functionality and usability.

A LI’L BIT MORE TO PONDER ON

If your design is too plain, nobody would need your design expertise. If your design is too complicated, nobody would understand what you’ve created. If your design is too new, your viewers would look for something they’re accustomed to. If your design is too old, your viewers would say you have no originality, no ingenuity. If your design has too much “special features”, your audience will get lost inside your jungle of unnecessary add-ons and will totally miss the most important thing there.

It is always wise and practical to have just the right dose of what is needed. A good designer is one who has good control aside from good taste. His design is always the right stuff because it’s made with the right ingredients in the right proportions. That is why he gets more audience and that is how he wins citations.

Good luck and here’s wishing you’ll be looking at your finished work with a smiling sigh and say, “I’m good!

^_^ Gracey

PS:

Here’s another greeting card you can use. Add more text or print it as is on glossy photo paper. Cut along the edges, leaving no white space, then paste it onto heavy card stock of complimenting color. Finish off by adding a dainty ribbon.

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