Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Designing "in the pocket"

Designing effective graphics ...

"Steve Duenes, graphics director for The Times, recently answered reader questions at the site. In one answer, he talked about striving for “daily graphic excellence” that educates readers without forcing them to skip a beat:

Our criteria for what makes a great graphic varies a little. There are things we attempt, and we hope the result will be spectacular, but we also think there’s such a thing as daily graphic excellence.

It doesn’t do us much good to produce a few splashy graphics but stumble on the smaller, routine things. If a reader can glance at a map or simple chart and quickly orient themselves or understand a statistic, and then continue reading the story without skipping a beat, it means we’ve edited and designed those graphics well.

A nice sentiment all the way around but the part that sticks out to me is the idea that good design makes it easy for people keep the beat.

That seems an especially apt metaphor for web design. By setting expectations, by offering preemptive support (e.g. explanatory text next to a form field), by being consistent, you let your visitors pursue their goals while staying in rhythm.

Some examples…

Keeping type in phase

Rhythm can come from a subtle visual thing, like keeping type in phase so it creates a rhythm up and down the page."    (Continued via 37signals)    [Usability Resources]

Page Rhythm - Usability, User Interface Design

Page Rhythm

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