Helpful Design Book

 

“The Non-Designer’s Design Book” (Third Edition) by ROBIN WILLIAMS is a design book I bought for a course this semester that ended up being SUPER helpful so I thought I’d share.  Williams has a really straightforward sense of humor so it’s also a fun read 🙂

Here’s what’s covered in the book:

  • the CRAP design principles
  • tips for using color in design
  • a section on branding packages, so like business cards, letterhead, envelope, flyer, newsletters, brochures, etc.
  • designing with type, including a really helpful section on the different categories of type as well as how to effectively contrast type

 

What I like best about it is that she provides multiple good AND bad examples of just about every piece of design advice she gives.  Visualizing what she’s talking about makes it really easy to apply what you’re learning along the way.  She also lists the typefaces used in each of the example designs which  is A GIANT TIME SAVER.  There are short ‘quizzes’ at the end of each section – I like to think of them as worksheets, but they’re easy and they’re helpful.  I would definitely recommend this book to anybody who isn’t necessarily in the design profession because it really makes a difference – the way the book is designed makes it really easy to follow and apply to whatever work you’re doing.

My Portfolio Website

Screen Shot 2013-05-04 at 12.04.25 AM

I just spent the last 5-6 hours or so writing codes for my personal portfolio website … UGH!  But the good news is that I think it’s pretty close to being finished.  I have to upload content to the actual portfolio page and of course fix a few formatting issues, but I thought I’d share my progress so far.

Notice my use of the CRAP design principles?  The formatting is ALMOST aligned consistently and when I contrasted font size, I made sure it was by A LOT (notice the header and navigation bar).  I probably did the best job with repetition – the background image, the opacity of the text boxes on each page, same fonts and colors, etc.  And as for proximity, all of the relevant information is on the correctly labeled page i.e. my contact information can be found under the “contact” page, etc.

Comments?  Suggestions?  Lemme hear them!

🙂 Here’s the link to my Portfolio Website …enjoy!

The CRAP Design Principles

frustrated-graphic-designerFeeling frustrated and/or overwhelmed by the thought of designing a media piece for your company or perhaps even your own business?  Don’t stress, you’re not alone.  Even traditional designers with years of experience are not exempt from such feelings.  Whoever you are, and whatever your background is, this post is here to bring you four of the most basic design principles to serve as a starting point and less overwhelming objective to focus on.  Don’t worry, they’re simple.  And the acronym, “CRAP” is even easier to remember – so no excuses people!

Contrast – if you are going to change an element in the piece you’re creating, MAKE A BIG, VERY NOTICEABLE CHANGE.  The elements you might consider adjusting include things like type, color, size, line thickness, shape, space between elements, etc.

Repetition – always consider repeating visual elements within your design.  The repetition will tie together the design and give it a stronger sense of unity.  Be selective about what elements you choose to repeat, but promise me you’ll always remember that LESS IS MORE.  A.K.A. do not repeat every single visual element in your design or it will end up looking like a hot mess.  Along with the visual elements previously listed in the contrast section, any symbols or images used in your design are also good candidates for being repeated throughout your piece (think watermarks).

Alignment – Random works well for some people, but most of the time, it does NOT work well in design.  The idea behind this principle is that nothing should be placed on the page arbitrarily.  That is, every element should have a visual connection with another element on the page in one way or another.  For example, all of the paragraphs in this post are aligned with one another.

If I started a paragraph here

and then here

or maybe here…

the post as a whole would look like crap (the non-crap principle kind of crap) and most of you would probably not even consider reading it.

Proximity – Items that relate to each other should be grouped together.  This will keep your design organized and allow viewers to successfully grab every bit of information without having to search for it.  For example, if you’re designing a flyer for the upcoming live shows at your restaurant/bar/theater/whatever, things like the address, phone number, and daily hours of your establishment should all be found next to each other or as a list in the overall design.

 

That’s it!  Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity.  Remember those AT LEAST, and you’ll be happy you did.  One last suggestion – take a moment during your day that is convenient for you to look for these principles in flyers (and other media pieces) around your community.  You’ll start to recognize good and bad examples of design as well as gain a better awareness for how important these principles are to the overall impact of each design.  Good luck! 🙂

photo source: freelancegraphicdesigner.info

A quick & easy design tip: keep a notebook

source: gearpatrol.com

source: gearpatrol.com

Advice from Daniel Pink.  (If you’ve not yet been convinced of how much you’ll learn from reading his books after reading post after post on my blog that have been inspired by them, I would be shocked.  Moral of the story: go buy them and start reading, seriously.)  I bought a pack of black, lined Moleskine notebooks at Target and dedicated one as my “Design Notebook”.  The things I write about in this notebook include the following:

-If I see great designs, I make a note of them.  I like to include things like price (if applicable), who or what company produced and/or designed them, a description of the thing’s attributes (specific reasons why I like it) like color, size, function(s), etc.

-I do the same thing for bad or flawed designs.  Sometimes I will include an additional sketch or description of how I think the bad design could be improved.

-I also make sure to include the design of experiences.  For example, what about this event made it so memorable?  What aspect(s) of my favorite undergraduate experience was my University responsible for fostering/what did they specifically do to shape that positive experience?  Why do I shop at Target instead of Shopko?  Stuff like that.

If you can commit to taking up this advice, then “before long, you’ll be looking at graphics, enteriors, environments, and much more with greater acuity.  And you’ll understand in a deepr way how design decisions shape our everyday lives,” according to Pink.  You will also learn a lot about yourself and your own preferences, according to me.

If you like this idea and decide to invest in your own design notebook, please please PLEASE share your ideas with me in one way or another.  And FYI I’ll probably be posting some excerpts from mine sometime in the near future 🙂