The Glue that Holds it Together
In the ever-changing world of design, one of the most important pieces is composition. Composition makes up all of the pieces of our work and makes it a whole. Composition is developed through two different concepts - unity and layout - along with other elements of design.
Especially in the Page 1 Solutions market (Cosmetic Dentistry, Plastic Surgery, Attorneys), most designs need some sense of unity. Essentially this means that the elements that make up the design need to look like they belong together. It allows the design to be seen as a whole instead of individual pieces. If the pieces aren't unified that can often make the design seem out of place, which can leave our clients bored and even worse, confused. When building a website for a plastic surgeon, the last thing you want is for their clients to be confused.
One of the best ways to achieve unity is to incorporate the same sense of style throughout your design. For example, if your website is made up of bold solid colors, it probably doesn't make much sense to have the navigation menu as a gradient. It's important to use the same color scheme, drawing techniques, fonts, etc. throughout the entire site.
Unity can be conceptual or visual when designing as well. Visual unity is when pieces of the design share the same style techniques, ie. color choices, a uniform shape throughout, or similar sizes. Conceptual unity is when there is a connection of different elements through meaning or reference.
While unity brings the element of a design together, the layout of a design arranges all of those elements in the space you are working with. The layout of a design almost has more of an effect on the composition than unity. As web designers, much of the layout techniques we use today have been influenced by print.
A few things we should consider when laying out our work are:
1. Scanning from left to right and from top to bottom : This is the pattern that is used to read and it has become a standard. If we arrange our content with this in mind we can control which elements a viewer will see first.
2. Looking for a title near the top: Over time it has become tradition to place the title for a subject at the top of the page. This is typically the first place a viewer will look to find the name of something.
3. Larger elements are more important: Elements that are larger tend to carry more significance thus getting more attention from the viewer.
4. Captions will be near the images they describe: While this is not always the case when there is limited space, it has for the most part become the medium. In web design we do not have to luxury of putting captions on the next page so it is important that they stay with their intended image.
5. Items near the top or on upper layers will be more important: The placement of pieces in a design designate significance. A perfect example of this at Page 1 is our mini-forms for our clients. We want our viewers to have easy access to contact a business so we always try to keep the mini-form at the top of the page.
6. References to additional information such as "continue" or "more," will be at the bottom of the information: This lets the reader know that the information being displayed continues beyond the current page.
All of these techniques are already familiar to viewers because they have been used with print. These are very useful methods to consider when putting together your layout on a website.
Our overall goal should always be to create a piece that contains no extra or unnecessary elements. All of the elements included should enhance each other, and the piece as a whole. It is key not to develop an attachment to design elements that don't enhance the composition. This can lead to emotional designing instead of smart designing.
On an end note, there are a few things you should always ask yourself when adding your elements to a design:
1. Does the element fit with the rest of the piece?
2. Does the element enhance the other parts of the design?
3. Does the element help move the viewers eye around the entire piece?
4. Does the element make the design more interesting?
If the answer is ever "NO" to any of these questions you should probably part with that piece of the design.
(Information used in the blog was taken from Design Fundamentals for New Media, Author: James Gordon Bennett)