Don’t you just love Audrey Hepburn? Together with Grace Kelly, Jackie Kennedy, Coco Chanel, to name a few, Audrey Hepburn was the epitome of everything elegant and lovely. When I was young, I loved watching her movies — Sabrina, My Fair Lady, A Roman Holiday, Charade… She was just mesmerizing! I loved her pretty outfits and the way she carried herself. In real life, she (and the other women I mentioned) carried herself with dignity and grace. Her beauty is timeless, because she wasn’t just another pretty face.
“In character, in manner, in style, in all the things, the supreme excellence is simplicity”, says Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I hold this mantra at the forefront of my mind every time I design anything. Each of my clients ask for a different look and feel to their sites or logo (chic, cute, vintage, modern, feminine, funky), but the one thing that I try to inject in all of them is elegance — in the use of huge amounts of white space, in not cluttering up the design with unnecessary embellishments that distract from the message, in the proper use of typography, in the use of color. Most of my design process is intuitive, but there are design principles that I do follow.
Design is a visible language. It communicates to your target audience what you and your brand are all about. I try to ensure that the message is clear and beautiful. How do I do this?
1. Keeping it simple. Your site visitors are rarely there to enjoy the design. It should never overwhelm the content.
2. White space is important (though not necessarily white). White space is not wasted space. It reduces the cognitive load on your site visitors. It gives the eye a place to rest. White space also serves to emphasize filled space (i.e. your content). I love white space.
3. Keeping it organized. I’m a little OC on visual organization, and I bring it to my projects. Everything should be consistent — the same rules should be applied to all visual elements of the site. Furthermore, it should be easy to navigate and the structure should be clear to your site visitors.
4. Do the most with the least amount of cues and visual elements. Aaron Marcus says there are four major points to be considered: simplicity, clarity, distinctiveness, and emphasis. Again, elegance. Any design elements used should be necessary — whether to emphasize an important element, or to distinguish between elements. The meaning should not be ambiguous. What use is a button that only appears when you hover over it and doesn’t say where it goes?
5. Keep the user interface easy to use. What is the point of all that design if your target audience cannot figure out how to use it? Typefaces should be readable. I love script fonts, but they are hard to read at small sizes, so I don’t recommend them for use on body text. Some of them won’t work as page titles either. I also try to keep in mind eye movement patterns. Visitors normally focus on the upper left corner of a page, skim to the right, look down, then skim to the right again, and look down. What does this mean? It means your logo should be on the upper left of the page, and your navigation should stretch across the upper part as well. Any important navigation links should be placed near the left. A good web design fulfills the purpose of the website first; looking pretty is secondary (although not unimportant).
I will end with another one of my favorite quotes:
“Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
Have a lovely weekend everyone! And don’t forget to like my page on facebook to stay updated and get free design tips and inspiration! 🙂