Before solving complex design problems you need to understand the basic components of design at your disposal. Much as a musician seeks to understand pitch and rhythm, melody and tempo, a designer should seek a greater understanding and control over:
A house divided against itself cannot stand
The house Lincoln was referring to was the United States of America shortly before the Civil War. As Lincoln put it, the country was half slave and half free. Two very different messages about what the country stood for. Lincoln further said about the country
It will become all one thing or all the other.
We know now which “all” the country did become and I hope we all agree the U.S. became the right “all.”
Lincoln’s point reaches beyond the socio-political climate of the time. A house, the United States, a design can not stand when divided. Every part must be working toward the same unified goal.
In design working toward the same unified goal is the idea of unity.
When your first impression of a design is positive, when you instinctively see the design as being good, it’s likely because one or more Gestalt principles of perception are at play. When you look at a design and admire one or two of it’s parts, it’s likely because those parts are adhering to one or more Gestalt principles.
“Less is more”
— Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
A good friend of mine is moving into a new apartment after being away from the area for a few years. Needing quite a bit of furniture and having limited funds we’ve been scouring used furniture stores. Sadly some of these stores had a design flaw, one that also exists on many websites.
When you first come across a new design where does your eye go? What’s the first thing you see on the page? Where in the design is your attention drawn? The answer to all three questions is one of dominance.