Oakland, California

Reading Design

I’ve read this piece about design by Dean Allen multiple times and yet I can’t appear to shake it. Every time I read it I find something new that perfectly summarizes that moment in my career. Here’s a list of design rules from the piece that is, right now, effectively my life:

An Entirely Incomplete List of Things a Non–Illiterate Designer Should Know Before Being a Designer:

  • That text will inevitably be read before it is looked at
  • That words themselves make remarkably effective clip art
  • That the self-conscious layering of messages usually subtracts more value than it adds
  • That the practical value of white space towers over its value as a design element
  • That the physiobiology of reading is one that demands easy points of exit and entry
  • That simply paying attention to the design of type, or distinguishing it as “fine” or “invisible” or “classical” is like making a big deal about putting salt on a boiled egg
  • That letters are not pictures of things, but things
  • That words are not things, but pictures of things
  • That arbitrarily altering (or allowing software to alter) the shapes of letters, and the spacing between letters and words, is done at one’s own risk
  • That emphasis comes at a cost
  • That overstating the obvious can be effective, but not all the time
  • The knowledge to back up design decisions clearly without falling into a fog of hidden meaning, or so–called “creativity”