Design is in the Details

by Naz Hamid

47 Reader Comments

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  1. I agree w/ Tee(Comment #17). It’s always nice to have an article like this to remind us of some important design principles.

    I think as designers, we sometimes get lost in the whole effort of constantly pushing the boundaries in design and articles like this help us to sort of pull back and give us some perspective as to what we are doing / where we are going.

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  2. I enjoyed this article. However, I think some practical steps are missing. How many beautiful designs have included wasted details that simply wouldn’t implement well on the Web, whether flawed for fluid layout or dynamic flexibility?

    Consider all the details after a few prototypes have been created for testing. Otherwise, the design may need to be scrapped anyway. Even the best Web developers have trouble converting that PSD layered with perfection to XHTML/CSS that matches precisely, and still matches with dynamic content. Lorem ipsum may look good in the design at first, but what happens when that’s replaced with real content, more or less?

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  3. Great write up Naz. I’ve been working web application design for the past few months and swimming in details. In the rush it’s way too easy to forget to be exploratory, thorough and step away from it every once in awhile.

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  4. Your approach has a Zen-like quality. It’s more than best practices, it’s a method of creating satisfying work — both for you and the client. I would point out that patients is a key ingredient needed in the creative process. And give yourself some slack, creativity doesn’t start at 8:01 am.

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  5. I find in my best designs I work with the client on the Concept and then through as set of iterated phases trim all the excess away using constraints.  I also believe strongly in power napping or a good night’s sleep between iterations.  Sleep researchers have determined that high level pattern recognition requires adequate rem sleep.

    What I am saying is that you do not build up to a design; you trim down to it.  A good designer is a sculptor.

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  6. i think this is great article.

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  7. i am glad to read your article it,s a good article keep it up.

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  8. I am amazed once again of how ALA touches all the design points.

    Keep up the good work.

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  9. Any designer worth the title should understand that excellent design will be in paying attention to the details. But to say that one should devote the time needed to make the design great at round one is arguably one of the worst pieces of advise a designer can take when it comes to doing professional work.

    An intial comp is just that. A preliminary idea that reflects the theme, voice, and message of the proposed design. Anything more, and, depending on the client’s response, you could lose the design process entirely. Storyboards, sketches, comps – these are the building blocks needed before getting into the details. They should already know what the quality of your work will look like by seeing your past examples. And if your client doesn’t understand that up front the problem is in communicating the expectation and process; not in the design.

    It should be clear to both your team and your client that you were able to effectively convey the above items before having to sweat the details at such an early stage – at a stage where you should be open-minded enough for collaboration, or even willing to scrap the approach entirely and take a different direction.

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  10. The process depends on the scope of the project, how many people are involved, and any number of other issues. Given the ability (one can hope) of controlling the flow from point one to the end, would you not wish to nail down certain things at the beginning rather than to flit from one unfinished thing to another?

    That said, I like the “not too much” less-is-more idea. However, even with an extremely streamlined design, there must be design there, and elements which will make it not too plain. Even simple designs can have elegant elements.

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  11. Sometimes you spend all day creating a masterpiece, only to discover the next day that it doesn’t look as good as you’d thought. It is crucial to spend time away from your work and keep going back to tweak it.
    the skill is knowing where to stop.

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  12. cery

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  13. to jeffrey and naz, sorry for my comment.
    I posted it a long time ago, but I must have been in a bad mood that day or something. I just stumbled upon it today.

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  14. Thanks good articls..

    Good driver download site

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  16. I love this article and have read it in other places. The one thing I do have to say is that I never believe that a designer feels that a comp they present is 90% complete. comps are there to generate a discussion. I think to spend a bunch of time on detailing a comp is a waste of time for everyone unless you know for sure that there won’t be too much resistance. Comps are there to stimulate a discussion about the details and use the resources of many heads to decide what those details should be. One person can never bring something full circle. I think most designers who are serious about their work know that a comp is just a comp is just a comp—and the road ahead is where the details begin. But I get the idea and agree wholeheartedly.

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  17. nice article, thanks.

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