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Design Principles

Design Tips for Programmers

The line between back-end and front-end programming is not always distinct. Many times programmers have to make design decisions on the fly. This guide is intended to help avoid the worst transgressions. As with all rules, there are exceptions—but leave those up to the professional designers.


Design Principles: Line

Line is the underlying principle driving Art Nouveau. Lines can be delicate or aggressive, directional or meandering, representational or abstract. Lines do much more than delineate a shape. They have rhythm. They have motion. They can fill space or create negative space.


Happy New Year, Art Nouveau Style

Art Nouveau is inspired by nature and organic forms. The dynamic and undulating lines of Art Nouveau can be found in architecture, furniture, household products, fashion, and graphic design. It bridged fine and commercial art, flourishing throughout Europe from the 1890s through 1910.


Design Principles: Balance

Balance is the arrangement of visual weight in a composition. Every object in a composition has visual weight. Heavier objects cause your eye to gravitate towards them. When a design is unbalanced, one object may hold your attention captive. Your gaze might even fall right off the page. A balanced design allows your eye to comfortably flow across all objects on the page.

Many properties affect the visual weight of an object, including size, color, texture, shape, position, and contrast.

Symmetry vs. Asymmetry

There are two ways of creating balance in a composition.

Symmetrical designs place identical or similar objects on either side of a center axis. These designs are formal, classic, and stable.READ MORE

Spotlight on Massimo Vignelli

A few years back I had the sublime pleasure of seeing Massimo Vignelli speak at a design conference. I snapped this photo with my phone when his definition of graphic design came up on the screen. Vignelli passed away this year, so it’s a good time to reflect on his career. You have seen his work— from his New York City subway map, to the classic American Airlines logo, to his melamine dinnerware for Heller. You can view some of his designs on Pinterest.READ MORE

Design Principles: Rhythm

A basic design principle, rhythm establishes consistency in your design. Repeating elements operate like the bassline in a good tune. Rhythm can create movement through a multi-page publication and help your viewer navigate.

Why Design on a Grid?

Think of the grid as the design’s skeleton; you can’t see it, but it gives structure to what you do see. The majority of publication and web designers arrange type and images on a grid. The viewer doesn’t see the grid lines, but can see evidence of them in the rows and columns throughout.


Happy Holidays, Bauhaus Style!

In post-WWI Germany, freed from monarchy and censorship, artists and writers thrived. They explored what it meant to live in a modern, industrial world. Some of the most lasting impact from this period originated at the Bauhaus.READ MORE