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Simplifying by removing the unnecessary

From: Design Aesthetics for Web Design

Video: Simplifying by removing the unnecessary

Strangely, one of the most misunderstood of the 10 principles of design is simplicity. I suspect after years of teaching that the reason for this difficulty is that the idea of simplicity is somewhat open to interpretation. Well, I'm sure you may have had the thought, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, a thought that glorifies the subjective. There is some truth to objective beauty, or objective value in both art and design. Let's begin our exploration of simplicity by looking at its definition.

Simplifying by removing the unnecessary

Strangely, one of the most misunderstood of the 10 principles of design is simplicity. I suspect after years of teaching that the reason for this difficulty is that the idea of simplicity is somewhat open to interpretation. Well, I'm sure you may have had the thought, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, a thought that glorifies the subjective. There is some truth to objective beauty, or objective value in both art and design. Let's begin our exploration of simplicity by looking at its definition.

Simplicity or visual economy, as some people call it, means only showing what is essential in a design. In other words, simplicity deals with the elimination of any non-essential elements or details to reveal the essence of a form. How can you tell what is essential versus non-essential in a design? As much as you might want that answer to be simple and concrete, in most cases people have a hard time determining what should stay in a design and what can go.

Here is an example of a layout that's, quote, all over the place, with regard to images, text, spacing, and alignment. Can you tell which parts of this design are essential versus non-essential? Surprisingly, however, if you were to ask a group of people to tell you which of two designs they find more attractive, invariably, they would choose the design with the greatest degree of simplicity. This is not to say that less is always more. On the contrary, a design with many elements can still have a high degree of simplicity.

Rather, what makes a design have a sense of simplicity is the fact that everything in the layout is needed, and there is nothing extra that shouldn't be there. When a client provides you with the content for a web mock-up, there's an assumption that all the elements are equally important. This simply is not true. It's your job as the designer to create structure and order, to set a hierarchy for the different sections. To lead the viewer through the layout, as they scroll the page from top to bottom.

When you're creating the design, it's often helpful to ask yourself repeatedly if each design element is essential or nonessential. Then, at the end of the design process, you can ask yourself two very important questions. First, is there anything missing in the layout? Did you forget some copy, a photograph, social media icons? Were you supposed to include a search bar, or some other user interface feature? Second, ask if there's anything you can remove? Get rid of anything that doesn't fit and anything that isn't assisting you in conveying the intended meaning behind the design and the content.

Is that shape really helping the design? Are these decorative elements really necessary? Do these columns look most separate with or without vertical dividers? When you're finished with your design, set it aside for a day or two before you look at it again with fresh eyes. Remember, simplicity deals with the elimination of any nonessential elements or details to reveal the essence of a form. If you've applied simplicity to your layout effectively. Your revised design should look more polished than your earlier version.

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Design Aesthetics for Web Design

32 video lessons · 16702 viewers

Sue Jenkins
Author

 
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  1. 2m 8s
    1. Welcome
      38s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 30s
  2. 9m 10s
    1. Understanding aesthetics
      4m 41s
    2. Examples from art and design
      4m 29s
  3. 35m 44s
    1. Understanding the elements of design
      1m 47s
    2. Using color to set the site's mood
      5m 50s
    3. Tweaking color values to add contrast
      3m 30s
    4. Using texture to add depth
      4m 53s
    5. Repeating shapes to unify your design
      2m 43s
    6. Structuring your layout with form
      3m 50s
    7. Using space to organize your design
      4m 38s
    8. Setting boundaries with line
      4m 36s
    9. Communicating with the right fonts
      3m 57s
  4. 38m 26s
    1. Understanding the principles of design
      1m 45s
    2. Using contrast to set areas of interest
      3m 8s
    3. Applying font styles to show emphasis
      5m 23s
    4. Aligning objects to achieve balance
      4m 40s
    5. Using hyperlink styles to create a sense of unity
      4m 10s
    6. Applying background patterns to create harmony
      3m 14s
    7. Adding movement with scrolling and animation
      3m 31s
    8. Using border styles to add rhythm and repetition
      2m 57s
    9. Achieving proportion by scaling objects and text
      2m 43s
    10. Simplifying by removing the unnecessary
      3m 21s
    11. Using gradation to create perspective
      3m 34s
  5. 37m 45s
    1. Responsive web: Creating CSS for different devices
      3m 2s
    2. Composition: Using the grid to organize space
      4m 45s
    3. Typography: Choosing and using web fonts
      5m 15s
    4. Color theory: Picking harmonious colors
      4m 16s
    5. Communication: Leading viewers through a design
      6m 30s
    6. Accessibility: Using size and color effectively
      6m 10s
    7. Originality: Stepping out of the box
      7m 47s
  6. 1m 57s
    1. Next steps
      1m 57s

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