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1

Principles of visual design

Joshua David McClurg-Genevese takes a look at the principles of balance, rhythm, proportion, dominance and unity that guide the arrangement of objects within a visual design.

Links:

  • The Principles of Design

Henrik Olsen - June 15, 2005

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2

The core principles of visual communication

According to Luke Wroblewski, visual communication is a key component of interface design and unfortunately often under-represented in interaction design methodologies.

A well thought-out visual organization "can greatly enhance usability by grouping information into meaningful page elements and sequences. Such a system relies on an understanding of how people use visual relationships to distinguish objects and what those relationships reveal to viewers..."

In a presentation, Luke Wroblewski introduces the core principles of visual communication and how they can be put to use in the design of web applications.

Links:

  • Visual Communication & Web Application Design

Henrik Olsen - May 01, 2005 - via InfoDesign

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3

Big, bold, and colourful doesn't make things noticeable

The fact that people tend to ignore big, flashy, and colourful banners at the top of web pages suggest that screaming out loud doesn't guaranty that something will be noticed.

According to Don Norman, this has to do with conventions. People guide their search using previous knowledge about websites and direct their attention directly to the location most likely to contain information of interest, such as lists of blue underlined links.

Don's moral: "...if you want something to be salient, follow conventions. Violate the conceptual model, even if the violation seems perfectly sensible, and you are apt to discover that readers miss critical information."

Links:

  • The article Banner Blindness, Human Cognition and Web Design

Henrik Olsen - November 22, 2004

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See also: Ads (6)  Web page design (22)  Tips and guidelines (60) 


 

4

Balancing visual and structural complexity in interaction design

For people with little experience in interaction design it's tempting to equate visual simplicity with usability. But there is more between heaven and earth than meets the eye. The Q4 issue of GUUUI takes a look at some common pitfalls, where studies have proven that what appears to be simple isn't always what is easy to use.

Links:

Henrik Olsen - September 30, 2003

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See also: Web page design (22) 


 

5

Perceived usability and aesthetics

Usability News has tested the correlation between perceived usability and aesthetics.

The results showed that when the test participant where asked to the predict usability of a site, they ranked the site with balanced colours and layout highest.

However, user satisfaction reported after the sessions were related to successful navigation more than aesthetic appearance.

Links:

  • The article Aesthetics and Usability: A Look at Color and Balance

Henrik Olsen - February 12, 2003

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See also: Research (82) 


 

6

form and function interview

Craig Saila interviews web designer and author of Designing CSS Web Pages (New Riders), Christopher Schmitt. The topic is form and function. This can and often does apply to usability on the functional level.

Links:

  • An interview with Christopher Schmitt

Nick Finck - January 30, 2003 - via Digital Web Magazine

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See also: Interviews (9) 


 

7

Primer on visual design

Luke Wroblewski has written a nice primer on visual design of web pages, which condenses the core principles of functional aesthetics.

There is too little talk about visual design among interaction designers and information architects though it's an important aspect of usability. If you want to learn more, read Kevin Mullet and Darrel Sano’s book Designing Visual Interfaces.

Links:

Henrik Olsen - January 28, 2003

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See also: Primers (8)  Web page design (22) 


 

8

Emotion and design:

ATTRACTIVE THINGS WORK BETTER by Don Norman provides examples of how emotion impacts on our experience (percieved or otherwise) - but of course this does need to be ballanced with usability ;-)

Links:

  • the article
  • Interview with Don Norman about emotion and affect
  • Time Pressure and Creativity: Why Time is Not on Your Side
  • Article in Interactions Magazine, ix (4), 36-42

ben hyde - August 28, 2002

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9

Usability vs. beauty, pleasure, and fun

First Donald Norman started talking about beauty and pleasure in design. Now Jakob Nielsen starts talking about fun. What on earth is happening to the two good old usability gurus?

For years a war has been going on between usability engineers and graphic designers, which no one has described better than Curt Cloninger: "In the usability corner, wearing the blue and purple underlined trunks, weighing in at just under 25K per gig... J-a-a-a-a-a-kob Nie-e-e-e-e-lsen." "And in the graphic design corner, wearing the greyscale trunks, weighing in at 500K per site (that's dollars, not bytes)... Kioken(oken-oken-oken)."

So is this war over? I don't think so…

Links:

  • Jakob Nielsen's article User Empowerment and the Fun Factor
  • An interview with Don Norman about the value of beauty, fun and pleasure in design
  • Curt Cloninger's article Usability Experts are from Mars, Graphic Designers are from Venus

Henrik Olsen - July 08, 2002

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10

Don't underestimate the power of Graphic Design

In the book, Fresh Styles for Web Designers, Curt Cloninger gives the usability community a telling-up for dismissing front-end design as mere "icing". "Yes, visitors have to be able to use your sites. But visitors should also be able to feel your sites. The web is not a database. The web is a communication medium."

I fully agree with him. If mankind didn't care about colours, pictures and layout, the world would look a bit different. Done right, Graphic Design and Interaction Design work together to enhance each other.

Links:

  • Curt Cloninger's personal Web site
  • Read reviews and buy the book at Amazon.com
  • Read reviews and buy the book at Amazon.co.uk

Henrik Olsen - January 15, 2002

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Browse GUUUI postings

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