Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Elements of Style for Designers

Writing effectively for websites ...

"The creative act of writing is always bounded a bit by the audience: journalism is not writing a novel. The same can be said of design: it is not art. Yet the materials are the same—words and pictures—and it is no big surprise that what is good for fiction is good for nonfiction. The surprise comes when one discovers that, with some exceptions, what is good for words is good for pictures too. And thus we discover The Elements of Style is just as relevant for young designers as for young writers.

E.B. White finishes The Elements of Style with a “List of Reminders.” It could have easily been “Ten Rules for Clear Writing” or “A Writer’s Manifesto” or even “Hanging Commas 99% Bad” but he opted for the gentler term: reminder. He did so because rules were meant to broken—learned first, but broken. And so he reminds us as we innovate and play what those rules were in the first place, and reminds us that breaking a rule can sometimes be hard to pull off. In that spirit, I will try to translate his writing reminders into design reminders. After reading them, you can go off and exuberantly ignore them.

1. Place yourself in the background.
Write in a way that draws the reader’s attention to the sense and substance of the writing, rather than to the mood and temper of the author."   (Continued via Boxes and Arrows)       [Usability Resources]

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