The NonDesigner

The Non-Designer’s Design Book Essay, Research Paper

The Non-Designer s Design Book

By Robin Williams

I chose this book because I am very interested in the design of a page, whether it be an advertisement, invitation, or feature story. I learned some important principles to follow. This book was easy to read and understand. I recommend it to anyone who might need a little help with design.

There are four basic principles in design. They are contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity. I will go on to discuss these each separately, but keep in mind that the principles are really interconnected. It is very rare that only one principle is applied to a design. The author points out that although inappropriate, there is quite memorable acronym, which I have underlined, for these basic design principles.

The principle of proximity states that you group related items together. When you move items close together physically, they are seen as a cohesive group. The closeness of items on a page implies a relationship. Grouping similar elements into one unit can do many different things for your design. It will make your design easier to follow because proximity makes the design more organized.

Here is an example of the lack of proximity using a typical business card:

Jaye Ad Agency (405) 555-1111

Bill Fold

123 Rocky Road Edmond,OK

The problem with the business card example above is how many times it makes your eyes stop. The example also make the information on the card seem unrelated, which is a little confusing. The example I gave does not clearly show the reader where to begin reading.

Here is example of a business card with the principle of proximity implemented:

Bill Fold

Jaye Ad Agency

123 Rocky Road

Edmond, OK

(405) 555-1111

This business card example is very clear about where to begin reading. All I did was group related information together. The example is now visually organized.

This book goes into some much more advanced examples of proximity. Since I am a very visual person, I thought you might want to see what I learned about proximity. The basic idea of proximity is to eliminate confusion by grouping similar elements together to give the design clarity and to make it an easy read.

The next principle is alignment. It states that every item should have a visual connection with something else on the page. In the chapter about alignment, the author warns about centering different items. She does not say to never center items, but just to beware of how dull centering can be. When a design is properly aligned, it will be unified and organized. The alignment along with a particular typeface can determine the personality (fun, serious, sophisticated) of a design.

Examples of invitations:

Please help us celebrate

the Holiday Season!








The first (top) example is fine, except that it is really rather dull. Although still centered, the second (bottom) example is more creative and pleasing to the eye. It s easiest to think of alignment as unifying and organizing.

The principle of repetition states that you repeat some aspect of the design throughout the entire piece. Any element, from the font to the color, can be made repetitive. Repetition can be used to enhance a design and clarify information. It can also help to carry out a theme. Repeated items do not have to be exactly the same objects, but objects that are obviously closely related. Or simply take an item and make it smaller, make it bigger, or change its color. Repetition can easily be overdone, which can make a design annoying or overwhelming. The purpose of repetition is to add visual interest. Grab a reader s attention and then keep it!

Lastly, contrast is formed when two things are different. The principle of contrast states that if two items are not exactly the same, then make them different. The basic purpose of contrast is to create an interest on the page. A page is more likely to be read if it is interesting to look at. You can create contrast with fonts and colors. Contrast can make a page more attractive, while at the same time making the purpose of the design much clearer. When working with contrast, you have to be brave. Don t try to contrast things that are similar. Have the guts to contrast something other than dark brown and dark blue. For the best design results determine what you want the focus of your design to be. Then use contrast to create that focus. If you re daring enough, contrast can be a great asset to your design.

Contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity are the four basic principles to design. I learned how they work alone, but more importantly how each one of them works so much better when all four principles are working together.

I really liked this book because it gave many examples of each idea discussed. The author talks about not being afraid when it comes to design. Do the unexpected. This book was also a good learning tool. It contains quizzes throughout the book that help me to retain the information. This book was also fun and exciting to read. I am very interested in the visual aspect of layouts. So, taking time to read this book was a pleasure. I only wish my other classes were as enjoyable.


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