Design for Developers – ConvergeSC #2

Jason Beaird did a great presentation on web design for a developer’s mind.  Developers, he explained, often have a very different mindset than designers.  Coders have a methodology, whereas designers have a specific mentality.

Design is all about constraints.  This is by far one of the best things I heard at the conference yesterday.  Without constraints, there would be no point.  Good web design is about pushing the envelope and discovering how to make something better within the constraints of our technology and resources.

Jason listed 5 basic aspects of web design: layout, color, texture, type and imagery.

Layout

Grids are good. They help organize your content and images.  960 pixels is a great time tested starting width for your fixed layout site.  This also works well with the three-column layouts that are becoming more popular, since 960 can be easily divided evenly.

Colors

Too often, designers pick colors that, while they might be complementary, are both too bright, and result in an unbalanced site.  Good colors should be picked within about 3 places between each other on the color wheel, or carefully chosen from opposing colors in the triangle.

Texture

Texture is one of the things that can take a good site to the next level.  Textures should be unobtrusive, flow easily, and be consistent to the feel of the site.  A great texture used in the wrong place, too much, or on a non-related site can ruin the design.

Type

Font selection is perhaps one of the most important, yet most abused, aspects when designing a site.  As Beaird described in his presentation, lots of young designers are opened to a world of thousands and thousands of free fonts – and it’s dangerous.  Of all these, very few are actually appropriate for an actual site.  For in-site text, use only the basic ones, as older computers and browsers might not have newer fonts.  If you must use a crazy font, use it in an image first and display the image on your site.

Imagery

Images make or break a website.  Too often, stock photos are selected and used without a thought to the audience, feel, or purpose of the site.  If you’re designing a site for a business, don’t rush straight to the picture of the girl with a handsfree headset.  Use images sparingly, and use good images.

Read more and get Jason’s book.

Jason’s talk was one of my favorites from ConvergeSC – and after talking with a few others, I know I’m not alone.  He left us with a charge as designers.  It is our job to expand the industry.  Push the envelope.  Make stuff look good and have fun in the process.

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