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Design Issues to Consider

To understand websites properly and how they function, you must understand some basic principles of design. Design goes beyond simple graphics and aesthetics, and into usability, accessibility and writing techniques.

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Understanding Design Theory

Graphic design theories go far beyond which colours elicit which emotions. These theories, like the theories of usability, are grounded in scientific research. The following are of an important nature when discussing graphic design:

Colour theoryThe usage (and sometimes absence) of colours in differing combinations and differing intensities. Certain colour combinations work well, others do not.
BalanceElements in any design should be equally positioned throughout the page.
RepetitionRepeating common elements throughout your website will create a sense of continuity for the user. They will recognize, regardless of the page they're on, that they're on your website.
AlignmentAligning items helps to organize web pages, and gives user a sense of ease. Content and page elements flow much better, and more easily comprehended and remembered whenever strong alignments are used.
TypographyContrast and concord is what we're aiming for here. Contrast is great; it divides up elements on the page, and gives us something distinguishable and interesting to look at. But make sure you use no more than 2 or 3 font types. Concord is simply using bold and italics and different font sizes to achieve some distinction. Just be careful to avoid conflict, which is using fonts that are similar but not exact; this is distracting and difficult to read.

How do we measure up?

For example, the following graphic design considerations were taken for this website:

  • Colour
    Red is the primary colour on the site, with black text on a white background (for the most part). Colour is used sparingly so as not to overwhelm our visitors, and shades are used to create subtle differences in appearance.
     
  • Balance
    You may notice that this site centres itself across your browser window. This provides balance. Text is also laid out in a fairly balanced manner.
     
  • Repetition
    Repeated elements on this site include the colour red, the navigation schemes, the 'breadcrumb' links along the top of each page, the footer element, and the mouseover behaviours of the buttons.
     
  • Alignment
    Alignments on this site are meant to be strong and consistent. The content keeps the same left and right side alignments, allowing for ease of scanning and consistency.
     
  • Typography
    There is only 1 font used in the text on this site; Verdana. This is controlled within a style sheet (except for images, of course). Another font, 'Kabel', is used in the logo; it is considered a secondary font. Bolding, italicizing, underlining and sizing are all used to provide concordance.