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Design Notebook

By Rachel El Sanadi

Introduction Alignment Proximity Contrast Repetition Typography (i) Typography (i) Analysis Typography (ii) Corporate Identity 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Alignment is achieved when each element is connected
with another element visually. Right, center, left, and columns and rows are a few examples of alignments.

Proximity is the concept of grouping related information


Contrast is achieved by capitalizing on the differences

between elements using colors, fonts, varying line thicknesses or shapes.

Repetition provides uniformity and organization to a

design. Repeat visual elements such as colors, rules, line thickness, fonts and graphics.

Typography is the layout and appearance of text in a

document. Designs fall into the following categories: concordant, conflicting and contrasting.

Corporate Identity is the design(s) an entity uses to set

itself apart. Starbucks green circle motif is an example of an effective corporate identity.

A weak example
The problem:
The main issue with this design is that it contains all three alignments. The top bar is centered, causing the text it contains to sit flush right, while the lighthouse graphic is flush left; the text in the middle is center-spaced, and the document control number is flush right at the bottom. This creates a boring, haphazard appearance and leaves the readers eye to wander over the page. Also, the breaks in the centered text make the title nearly incomprehensible.

Choose one alignment for the entire design. This will bring stability and strength to the document. Readers will get the impression that the authors know what they are talking about and will likely be more amenable to the information presented in the document. The blue bar at the top of the document is the organizations logo. One solution to the design problem is to repeat the horizontal alignment using the title and other textual information. Align all the text on the right and allow the title to march across the page, thus eliminating the odd breaks in the phrases.

A weak example
The problem:
While this design breaks every rule in Williams book, it fails the proximity guideline especially. The elements are dispersed all over the page creating six distinct pockets of information. It is unclear at first glance whether the title is The Lesson Lady or Thanksgiving Stations. The black text looks to be an afterthought, stuck in the middle. Though it is close to the title, it does not appear to be related to the information in the yellow box at all. It is also difficult to decipher the information in the white boxes.

Identify the main elements: - Text in the yellow box - Black text - Text in the white boxes Remove the boxes because they cause the reader to see too many different pieces of apparently disjointed information. Distinguish the black text from the rest of the design by putting it on the same background as the title; it explains what is in the packet and should therefore be closer to the title. List the text currently in the white boxes all in one place. Use bullet points, use colored font, be creative; but keep the text in close proximity so the reader understands that it describes the contents of the packet.

A good example
This design is outstanding. The creator has used contrast to double the designs effect on the reader.

Specific contrasting elements:

The yellow background is eye-catching. If placed on a bulletin board full of white papers, this poster will certainly stand out. The paperclips size contrasts with the paper itself and the smaller text. Note that lack of color contrast here plays a key role (discussed below). The black boxes around the reversed title contrast with the yellow background and with the paperclip. The large type of the title contrasts with the small text explaining more about the document. The contrasting weight of the festival date and website draws the eye.

Why it works:
The black boxes draw readers attention. After absorbing the title, the eye drifts to the paperclip. Because the paperclip blends into the background, it demonstrates the concept of being ignored in a visceral way. Here, the rules of contrast have been broken intentionally and successfully. The readers attention is grabbed by the design, but even more importantly, their emotions are stirred and their curiousity is piqued. 6

A good example
This flyer has helpful elements of repetition which create an official and professional appearance.

Specific repeated elements:

Bold numbers on the left Titles for each numbered section, such as Prewriting: Getting it Together Descriptions under each section of roughly the same length Small graphics on the right

Why it works:
The repetition of the various elements enumerated above creates a sense of stability in the document. The document screams: I am organized and I know what Im talking about. Each repeated element informs readers exactly where they are in the document, making it easier to use. Also, the systematized layout enables readers locate relevant information quickly.

Typography (i)
A good example
See analysis on following page.

Typography (i) Analysis

A good example
This poster combines the six elements of typography to create an effectively contrasting design.

Size: This typographical element is used to great advantage. Toss your boss is
in large type, causing the eye to gravitate toward it. The date and location of the event are also prominent. The description is much smaller, readable for those who are interested but not so large that it overpowers the overall design. Weight: There is a drastic contrast in the weights of type throughout the piece, but it is especially noticeable in the chunky Over the Edge phrase in the upper left corner and the spindly invites you to phrase. Information is emphasized with thick lines, catch-phrases such as register at are also large in order to catch readers attention. Structure: Because of the large number of typefaces, there are many different structures in the piece. The faces used for invites you to, your boss, and American center, are all different types in the larger category of decorative faces. They differ and complement one another, while contrasting excellently with the sans serif and oldstyle faces also included in the piece. Form: There are five different forms of A, a on the page. All are distinctive. Direction: Vertical and horizontal lines contrast. In the phrase over the edge, the is placed vertically, giving a block-ish appearance to the text. This contrasts beautifully with the oldstyle Make a Wish logo. In the One American Center the one is vertical, repeating the visual element and keeping the eye moving downward. While not a textual element, the climber graphic works in tandem with the vertical text, helping to draw the eye down. Color: In this document, color comes from the various typeface weights instead of actual colors. The large amounts of white at the top of the page attract the eye in much same way a contrasting color would have done. The large blocks of text create interest. The design has an air of simplicity because of the minimalistic color palette.

The glaring problem with this design is that the eye-catching main text is all capitalized. Lowercase could be used without trepidation because all six of the above type design elements are present.

Typography (ii)
A weak example
This poster has a conflicting design, making it difficult for readers to navigate and comprehend the message.

The problem:

Size: Nothing stands out to the reader because the

text is all the same size. Weight: The bolded red text is not heavy enough to contrast effectively with the thinner white lines. Structure: The text is from the same category of type face; the similarities create conflict. Form: The text all has the same form; the effect is dull not dramatic. Direction: The main phrase conflicts with the watermark in the background. Color: The red text overpowers the reader, decreasing the posters readability and comprehensibility. The black background creates a harsh appearance.


Size: Increase the size of the red text. Using size to emphasize these phrases will

be more effective than using color. Weight: Make the weights more different from one another. Changing the typefaces (as described below) is a good place to start. Structure: Choose a script typeface for the red phrases or put dream and think into a script face. Too big and too small could be put in oldstyle to contrast with the white sans serif and the script faces. Form: If a script face is chosen, this will sufficiently contrast with the sans serif. Direction: Remove the watermark. Overall horizontal direction will work best for this piece. Color: Make the background white and choose two complimentary colors for the text; put dream and think in one color and the rest of the text in the other.


Corporate Identity
The Diabetes Hands Foundation
This non-profit organization is based in California. Below please find the website homepage, holiday greeting cards, a section of their strategic plan document and their store website.

Left, figure 2. The Diabetes Hands Foundations holiday cards. (Note: the small dots on the front of the white card are rainbow-colored.)


Figure 3. A page from Diabetes Hands Foundation Strategic Plan (see note below)

*Page is available publicly online, despite the fact that it says confidential above. 12

Figure 5. Diabetes Hands Foundation Twitter profile photograph.

Overall, the Diabetes Hands Foundation (DHF) lacks a strong corporate identity. The only identifying elements are the color turquoise, rainbow motifs (to a certain extent), the use of dots and a consistent sans serif typeface. The colors in the documents are appealing because they are complimentary. These unique elements strengthen the general design, but DHF is missing a definitive logo. Furthermore, the Strategic Plan in Figure 3 does not share any attributes (except for the rainbow dots) with any other document.

Choose a logo. The small turquoise square with the non-profits title seems obvious and apropos. Use it as the profile photograph. Choose a single identifying graphic, such as the world map motif in Figure 1 and 2. This motif could be used for adding interest to flyers and posters and, when included in DHFs publications, would promote the non-profits identity. Incorporate multicolored dots more universally and intentionally. 13