Principles of Design #70 – Iteration

Apr 26 2016 Published by Neil Gains under design

The principle of iteration is central to design thinking. Just as evolution allows complex structures to develop over time in nature, iteration is at the core of good design, building on simple foundations to develop more complex designs. This is achieved by progressively exploring, testing and refining a design over time, often with very fast cycles of iteration. Iteration is often broken into two phases: design iteration and development iteration. Read more »

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Principles of Design #68 – Uniform Connectedness

Jan 06 2016 Published by Neil Gains under design

Uniform connectedness is the principle that elements that are connected by uniform visual properties, the most common being colour, are seen as more related than other elements that do not share a visual property. This is a recent addition to the Gestalt principles of psychology, based on the perception of elements with uniform visual properties as a single group or chunk of information. A single matrix composed of dots is seen as columns where common regions, lines or colours connect the dots vertically, whereas it is send as rows when the common regions, lines or colours connect them horizontally. Read more »

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Principles of Design #57 – Symmetry

May 04 2014 Published by Neil Gains under design

Symmetry has always been associated with beauty (although for a twist on this read about Wabi-Sabi aesthetics here). It is found in most natural forms, and is generally favoured in natural selection and specifically in sexual selection (symmetric faces are perceived as more attractive than asymmetric faces). The human body shows the principle of symmetry well, with two eyes, two ears, two arms and two legs, but other animals and plants show this just as well. In nature, symmetry is largely a function of the force of gravity and a kind of ‘regression to the mean’ (averaging of form).

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Principles of Design #56 – Wabi-Sabi

Mar 19 2014 Published by Neil Gains under design

Wabi-Sabi is a design principle that is also a (Japanese) world view, philosophy of life and aesthetic principle. Wabi-Sabi centres on the acceptance of transience and imperfection, and is based on beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent and incomplete”. It derives from one of the three marks of existence from Buddhism: impermanence. [The others are suffering and absence of self-nature.] Read more »

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Principles of Design #54 – Highlighting

Jan 18 2014 Published by Neil Gains under design

Highlighting is used in design to bring attention to particular elements or features. Good highlighting is an effective way to get the attention of users, readers or viewers when applied to an area of text or image, but can be counter-productive if used inappropriately. The guidelines below are taken from Universal Principles of Design (and some personal experience). Read more »

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The Design of Everyday Things

Aug 28 2013 Published by Neil Gains under design

I have just reread The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman, a recommended read for anyone interested in design. As Donald Norman points out, the book was originally titled The Psychology of Everyday Things (from POET to DOET) and the book is full of insights into the psychology behind user experiences, and the failings of many designs to accommodate the experience and learned practices of users (Norman was himself a cognitive psychologist). The book is a great argument for user-centred design. Read more »

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Principles of Design #44 – Law of Prägnanz

Jun 11 2012 Published by Neil Gains under design

The Law of Prägnanz is the tendency for all of us to interpret ambiguous images as simple and complete rather than as complex and incomplete. It is one of the key principles underlying Gestalt psychology and is also sometimes known as the law of good configuration, law of simplicity, law of pregnance, law of precision or law of good figure. Read more »

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Principles of Design #43 – Mapping

May 30 2012 Published by Neil Gains under design

Easy user experiences

Mapping is the term used to describe the relationship between controls and their movements or effects, and good mapping is an important part of making the user experience easy and enjoyable. For example, the Segway human transporter goes forward when the user leans forward and back when the user leans back. A great use of mapping. Read more »

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Principles of Design #41 – Self-Similarity

Mar 11 2012 Published by Neil Gains under design

Different scale, same pattern

Self-similarity is a common property in nature, usually seen as intrinsically aesthetic, by which a form is made up of parts similar to the whole (or to one another). Natural forms are highly likely to to exhibit self-similarity at many levels of scale, in contrast to human made forms which usually do not. An aerial view of a coastline reveals the same basic edge patterns whether you stand at the water’s edge or view from a helicopter above (or even higher), in the same way that the Mandlebrot fractal set above, with the same pattern at varying levels of detail. The whole is a mosaic of smaller wholes, on and on into infinity. Read more »

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Principles of Design #38 – Recognition Over Recall

Jan 01 2012 Published by Neil Gains under design

Tip of the tongue

Our ability to recognise things that we have previously experienced is much better than our ability to recall the same things from memory. Recognition is much easier because recognition provides cues which helps us sort through our vast memory and find the most relevant information. We all find multiple choice questions easier than short answer questions, because the list of possible answers makes it easier and quicker to find the right one, as we can narrow down options very efficiently unlike short answer questions which leave a much greater range of possibilities for us to search. Read more »

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