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Web Designers - What elements make for great designs?
18 points by rcavezza on July 8, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 8 comments

Some of you may have seen my post earlier this week about being terrible at web design and looking for resources.

I wasn't able to find any, and decided build an "even a dummy can use" web application to generate web 2.0 rockstar designs.

If you guys can point to some design elements that should be included it would be really appreciated.

I'm thinking things like tabbed links, gradient usages, very specific things I can create using jquery and php for clueless developers like myself.

Also, if any of you have ideas for what the web application should contain, that'd be appreciated as well.

My list (let me know if any of these are unclear):

- good use of whitespace

- objective driven ("let me help you balance your checkbook" rather than "click here to login to our system and enter your account information")

- design elements highlight functionality (buttons like buttons, unusable elements greyed out)

- no clutter -- most important stuff is most obvious

- shortcuts for the advanced users, handholding for novices (if you've ever used Mailchimps Campaign Builder, like this)

- concise text written at about a 11th grade level (simple non-compound sentences, etc.)

- lack of jargon

- fun

I was terrible too at design.. and I have to agree to those points. However, the one that made the biggest difference for me was the use of whitespace.

I would also add:

- Don't be afraid to take space for important stuff. And to simply delete useless stuff.

For instance, when I create powerpoint presentation, I put only one picture that takes all the screen.. this is way better then 5 small pictures a little bit everywhere.

Or on a web page, I like when the logo takes 1/3 of the page. The main content 1/3 and the "a little bit" less important stuff 1/3. For an example of that: http://us.battle.net/?rhtml=y

Here is a presentation I did on the fundamentals behind good design: http://www.kadavy.net/blog/posts/design-for-the-coders-mind-...

Tailored handcrafted tactile experiences. I don't think you can machine this, though. But that's great design. Good design can be made by following simple rules: grid, contrast, simple copy, for apps: easy-to-understand interface and functions.

Pick up a copy of "The Non-Designer's Design Book" by Robin Williams (not that Robin Williams). It's not a web design book, but it is a great introduction to basic design fundamentals in plain English.

Great designs are almost always bespoke: created for a specific task of a website.

However, a great generic design is generally based on a grid. Check out Grid systems in Graphic Design by Müller-Brockmann.

detail and simplicity

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