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Topic: Graphic Design

Visual design. Art direction, visual communication, creative direction, illustration, photography, visual art. Using color, symbol, and type to communicate ideas, brands, emotions, styles, and expressions. Arranging image and text to communicate a message. Developing an appropriate look and feel. How people respond to design. Style versus design. Design is not something you paste on at the end.

  • I Don’t Like It

    by Laura Kalbag ·

    The most dreaded of all design feedback is the peremptory, “I don’t like it.” Rather than slinking back to the drawing board, it’s important to get clarity on what the client is reacting to. Guiding this conversation can turn a show-stopper into a mutual win.

  • Kids 4–6: “The Muddy Middle”

    by Debra Levin Gelman · Issue 398 ·

    Full of knowledge and creativity but not yet quite able to read, kids from ages 4 to 6 occupy a “muddy middle” for designers—they’re too old for toddler games, but too young for most apps and games made for “big kids.” Learn how to understand this group in this excerpt from Deb Gelman’s book, Design for Kids, out now from Rosenfeld Media.

  • Persuasion: Applying the Elaboration Likelihood Model to Design

    by Victor Yocco · Issue 397 ·

    Persuasion isn’t a slick ad pitch or a campaign promise. It’s inherent to the content, style, and delivery of our messages, for better or for worse. Everything we say, do, and design has an impact on how our message is perceived—so why not put that power to work for you on the web? Victor Yocco shows us how to incorporate a deeper understanding of the psychological underpinnings of persuasion into our designs, allowing us to better reach—and win—the hearts of our users.

  • Creating Style Guides

    by Susan Robertson · Issue 393 ·

    A style guide, also referred to as a pattern library, is a living document that details the front-end code for all the elements and modules of a website or application. It also documents the site’s visual language, from header styles to color palettes. In short, a proper style guide is a one-stop guide that the entire team can reference when considering site changes and iterations. Susan Robertson shows us how to build and maintain a style guide that helps everyone from product owners and producers to designers and developers keep an ever-changing site on brand and on target.

  • The Z-Axis: Designing for the Future

    by Wren Lanier · Issue 393 ·

    For years we’ve seen the web as a two-dimensional space filled with pages that sit side by side on a flat, infinite plane. But as the devices we design for take on an increasingly diverse array of shapes and sizes, we must embrace new ways of designing up and down. Designing on the z-axis means incorporating three-dimensional physics into our interface designs. Wren Lanier explains how, by using the z-axis to place interface elements above or below one another, we can create better design systems that are more flexible and intuitive to use—and create new patterns that point the way to future interactions.

  • Me and My Big Fat Ego

    by Laura Kalbag ·

    In a design project, there are usually areas where the client sees room for improvement—and that’s hard to take if your self-esteem is bound up with your work. You need confidence to present your work, but be sure to dial back the ego if it stands in the way of a successful client relationship.

  • UI Animation and UX: A Not-So-Secret Friendship

    by Val Head · Issue 390 ·

    The words “web animation” make many of us search frantically for the “skip intro” button, but adding motion to our work can be meaningful and functional—when we find the right circumstances. Animation can provide cues, guide the eye, and soften the sometimes-hard edges of web interactions. Val Head shows you how CSS makes it possible.

  • Web Animation at Work

    by Rachel Nabors · Issue 390 ·

    We use HTML to tell stories and communicate vast amounts of information—and animation helps us do both better. Just as hierarchy guides users through content, animation guides them through interactions by helping them understand relationships, structure, cause, and effect. Rachel Nabors explains her fascination with CSS3 animations, Canvas, SVG, the web audio API, webGL, and all the rest, and explains why we need web animation—and web animators.

  • Designing for Breakpoints

    by Stephen Hay · Issue 376 ·

    Text, navigation, and tables, oh, my! What’s a responsive web designer to do? How can you confine your design to as few major breakpoints as possible? Where and when will you sketch minor breakpoints? How should you think about content while sketching? Is it possible to sketch on actual devices, and what are the accessibility implications of doing so? The answers to these and other profound questions will be found in this exclusive excerpt from Chapter 7 of Responsive Design Workflow, Stephen Hay’s new book, available now from New Riders.

  • Material Honesty on the Web

    by Kevin Goldman · Issue 372 ·

    Material honesty—the idea that a substance should be itself, rather than mimic something else—has guided everyone from Ruskin to Charles and Ray Eames. How might material honesty apply to our immaterial (digital) projects? What light might its principles shed on such aesthetic debates as flat versus skeumorphic web design? And how might a materially honest approach change how we conceive and sell our projects? Kevin Goldman forecasts increased longevity for our work and even our careers if we apply the principles of material honesty to our digital world.

  • The Era of Symbol Fonts

    by Brian Suda · Issue 371 ·

    Welcome to the third epoch in web performance optimization: symbol fonts. Everything from bullets and arrows to feed and social media icons can now be bundled into a single, tiny font file that can be cached and rendered at various sizes without needing multiple images or colors. This has the same caching and file size benefits as a CSS sprite, plus additional benefits we’re only now realizing with high-resolution displays. Discover the advantages and explore the challenges you’ll encounter when using a symbol font.

  • Style Tiles and How They Work

    by Samantha Warren · Issue 347 ·

    How do you involve your client in a successful design process? Many of our processes date back to print design and advertising. It’s time we evolved our deliverables to make clients a more active participant in the process. The style tile is a design deliverable that references website interface elements through font, color, and style collections delivered alongside a site map, wireframes, and other user experience artifacts. Learn how style tiles can align client and designer expectations, expedite project timelines, involve stakeholders in the brainstorming process, and serve an essential role in responsive design.

  • Artistic Distance

    by Paul Burton · Issue 347 ·

    Pimpin’ ain’t easy; neither is self-critique. If you are passionate about what you create, it is impossible to completely disassociate yourself from your work in order to objectively evaluate and then improve it. But the ability to achieve "artistic distance" that is, to attain a place that allows you to contemplate your design on its own merits, will enable you to improve your own work immeasurably and, ultimately, to cast off the immature shackles of ego. Learn to let your work shine by letting go of it. Acquire the knack of achieving artistic distance.

  • A Pixel Identity Crisis

    by Scott Kellum · Issue 342 ·

    The pixel has long been the atomic particle of screen based design: a knowable, concrete unit of measurement. But layouts based on the hardware pixel are fast becoming an endangered species. Even the introduction of a new, W3C standard reference pixel, although it promises stability in the long-term, can't help us navigate the current chaos. Consider the two "standard" pixel definitions and 500 "standard" viewports your user's Android device may support. To create designs that transcend platform differences, the promise of the web and standards, you must normalize pixels across devices. Scott Kellum shows how math and media queries can keep you sane and help you design consistently across platforms.

  • Personality in Design

    by Aarron Walter · Issue 337 ·

    Personality is the mysterious force that attracts us to certain people and repels us from others. Because personality greatly influences our decision-making process, it can be a powerful tool in design. In an exclusive excerpt from his spanking new book Designing For Emotion, Aarron Walter shows us how to create a strong human connection in human-computer interaction by turning our design interactions into conversations, imbuing mechanical "interactions" with distinctively human elements, and using design and language techniques to craft a living personality for your website.

  • Demystifying Design

    by Jeff Gothelf · Issue 335 ·

    Mystifying design with jargon only we understand makes us feel like heroes and creates a sense of job security. But it also creates an “us and them” atmosphere which excludes non-designers, obscures the true value of design, and generates antagonism when only cooperation will yield the best product. By revealing our process and inviting others into our world, we can create a team that is invested in the success of our work, and deliver better design. Jeff Gothelf discusses the steps we can take to increase the value of our practice and of ourselves as practitioners.

  • Marry Your Clients

    by Shane Pearlman · Issue 334 ·

    Do you consistently work to stay engaged, or do you get comfortable with clients? With new projects, it's easy to make the extra effort. The longer you work together, the easier it becomes to feel satisfied with the status quo, while giving your best energy to the shiny new client. Rather than pretend this won't happen, prepare for it and create a strategy to combat it. Shane Pearlman shows us how.

  • Designing Fun

    by Debra Levin Gelman · Issue 332 ·

    How do you define fun on the web? Fun means different things to different people. Debra Levin Gelman says that to create fun, we need to allow users to create, play, and explore. Learn how to help your client define fun, rank its importance on their site, and user test it to create a delightful experience, regardless of whether you're designing for suits and ties or the sandbox crowd.

  • Design Criticism and the Creative Process

    by Cassie McDaniel · Issue 321 ·

    In every design project, at some point we quit what we're doing and share our unfinished work with colleagues or clients. This begs the question: Just what does the critique do for the design and the rest of the project? Do critiques really help and are they necessary? If so, how do we use their inconsistencies to improve our creative output? Cassie McDaniel explores how critiques can help us navigate complex processes and projects and collaborate effectively to create original and engaging work.

  • Art Direction and Design

    by Dan Mall · Issue 317 ·

    Sure, your design’s composition is perfectly balanced, the typographical hierarchy works, and the contrast is bang on. But, when you step back and take a look, how does it make you feel? Does your design evoke the right emotion? Dan Mall explains the difference between art direction and design on the web and challenges us to do it again, this time with feeling.

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