learn design basics


01. Accessibility

Objects and environments should be designed to be usable, without modification, by as many people as possible.

02. Aesthetic-Usability Effect

Aesthetic designs are perceived as easier to use than less-aesthetic designs

03. Alignment

The placement of elements such that edges line up. This creates a sense of unity and cohesion, which contributes to the design's overall aesthetic and perceived stability. Alignment can also be a powerful means of leading a person through your design.'

04. Closure

A tendency to perceive a set of individual elements as a single, recognisable pattern, rather than multiple individual elements. The tendency to perceive information in this way is automatic and subconscious; it is likely a function of an innate preference for simplicity over complexity and pattern over randomness.

05. Colour

Colour is used in design to attract attention, group elements together, indicate meaning and enhance aesthetics. Use colour conservatively and keep in mind colour combinations, hue and saturation. It may be tempting to always use the brightest colour possible in order to stand out, however, slightly desaturated colours better represent performance, professionalism and efficiency. Combining saturated colours can also interfere with one another and increase eye fatigue. 

 06. Consistency

The usability of a system is improved when similar parts are expressed in similar ways. There are four types of consistency, aesthetic, functional, internal and external. Aesthetic consistency refers to consistency within the style and appearance and can enhance recognition, communicate membership and set emotional expectations.

07. Development cycle

successful products typically follow four stages of creation: research/requirements, design, development and testing. Gather requirements through controlled interactions with target audience(s). Use research, brainstorming, prototyping and iterative design to achieve optimal designs. Minimise variability in products and processes to improve quality. Repeat last steps 🔄 until perfection has been reached.

07. Cost-benefit

An activity should only be pursued only if its benefits are equal to or greater than the costs.

08. Exposure Effect

Repeated exposure to stimuli for which people have neutral feelings will increase the likeability of the stimuli. Use the exposure effect to strengthen advertising and marketing campaigns, enhance the perceived credibility and aesthetic of designs and generally improve the way people think and feel about a message or product. Keep the exposures brief and separate them with periods of delay.

09. Figure-ground Relationship

This is one of the several principles referred to as Gestalt principles of perception. It asserts that the human perceptual system separates stimuli into figure elements or ground elements. Clearly differentiate between the two in order to focus attention, minimise confusion and increase the probability of recall of the key elements by making them 'figures' in the composition.

10. Flexibility-Usability Trade-off

As the flexibility of a system increases, it's usability decreases.  This is exemplified by the well-known maximum, jack-of-all-trades, master of none. Flexible designs are, by definition, more complex than inflexible design, and as a result are generally more difficult to use. When your audience has a clear understanding of its needs, favour specialized designs that target those needs as efficiently as possible. When your audience has a poor understanding of its needs, favour flexible designs to address the broadest possible set of future applications.

11. Form follows function

Beauty in design results from purity of function and abense of ornamentation. 

12. Framing.

a technique that influences decision making and judgment by manipulating the way information is presented. Use framing to elicit positive (moves people to action ie make a purchase) or negative feelings (moves people toward inaction ie. prevent drug use) about a design.