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Design Principles: Basic

There are no universal solutions in design, but basic principles. With the help of which we can distinguish good design from a mediocre one. Fortunately, you don’t have to get an art academic degree to understand tricks. Some of them you already know from drawing lessons at school and still perceive intuitively. It’s time to develop the skill by practicing.

Color

People are able to distinguish up to 120 colors. Color is a sensation that occurs when a person is exposed to light. Color has a subjective beginning – our vision. People are tempted to have different mental reactions to the same color. Our perception is affected by there main factors: time, age, gender, and nationality. They may increase the effect of color. Or vice versa.

Fortunately, there is a general rule: the cleaner and brighter the color is, the more intense and stable would be the person’s reaction to it. On the contrary: complex or unsaturated colors cause a relatively weak mental response.

According to generally accepted characteristics: ::red:: is perceived as active and warming, yellow stimulates vision and nervous activity, ::green:: tones up,::blue:: – calms and stabilizes the pulse, and::purple::- produces a depressing effect on the nervous system.

Due Alan Cooper’s book about the interfaces:

 Is it yellow, red, or orange? Differences in hue draw our attention quickly. In some professions, hue has specific meaning we can take advantage of; for example, an accountant sees red as negative and black as positive, and a securities trader sees blue as “buy” and red as “sell” (in the United States, at least). Colors also take on meaning from the social contexts in which we’ve grown up. To Westerners who’ve grown up with traffic signals, red means “stop” and sometimes even “danger,” whereas in China, red is the color of good luck. Similarly, white is associated with purity and peace in the West, and with funerals and death in Asia. Unlike size or value, though, hue is not intrinsically ordered or quantitative, so it’s less ideal for conveying that sort of data.

You can find more about how different color usage may manipulate our purchasing power *here*.

 

Typography

Even if you are not a professional typographer, you can evaluate the text in accordance with your goals. Font selection is usually made with an eye on the following text requirements:

Readability.  This is a characteristic of large texts that are intended for continuous reading. The most readable font is considered to be neutral and imperceptible – for a reader not to strain his eyes. If the text is not too small, and the characters don’t stick together in a common canvas — you have chosen a suitable font.

Distinctness. This is an important font characteristic for reading in non-standard conditions: in poor light or from a long distance. Letters should differ as much as possible from each other in shape and be large enough.

Visibility. First, we see the text and then read it. Therefore, the font should attract attention: by its size, color or style.

A deeper understanding of the topic gives the book “Typography” written by Emil Ruder.

 

Contrast

Our brain is made to thinks of opposites: far and near, hot and cold, motionless – moving. For a human there is no concept of “either-or”; rather, our approach can be formulated as “not only, but also.” Our mind is sharpened to respond to contrasts. After noticing one object, the brain immediately tries to classify and pick the opposite one. Therefore, playing with contrasts is one of the most expressive means of creating an image. Comparison of two elements by the principle of contrast modifies and enhances the effect of each.

 

Composition

Basic knowledge of the composition should be put in us back in childhood. It forms the elementary literacy of the artwork perception. Professions such as an architect or designer require knowledge of the laws of harmony for everyday work, but a basic understanding of composition techniques is also common for other professions. The basic forms of any composition – is a line, a point, and a spot. Visual images are made as combinations of these.

 

Look and Feel

Look and Feel – could be described as a primary reaction when a user visits the site. In simple terms, this is how the site looks and feels during the interaction.

Look categories include:
 * Layout
 * Color palette,
 * Fonts,
 * Images.

The characteristics of Feel are affected by:
-Micro-interactions in buttons, drop-downs, forms, and other dynamic elements,
-Sound effects,
-Download speed of components.

Look and Feel serves the purpose of branding, helping to distinguish a product from its competitors in a niche. Secondly, it sets the pattern of using products with a similar Look and Feel. The user is able to transfer the interaction experience to similar products.

A specific business or industry gives users certain expectations. Sites with too experimental LAF solutions can confuse the user or even push him away.

Summary

There are no right and wrong decisions in design. Just some decisions make the user closer to the intended goal, and some distract from it. There are much more design principles than what was described above, but fortunately for us, it’s a finite number. We have more to tell about Scaling, Negative Space, Symmetry and Hierarchy in Design. See you in the next article on Design Principles 👾

Jegor Walowski

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