Themes of Thinking: Communicating Design Ideas Efficiently

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Designers often face the challenge of fitting large quantities of information into formats with limited space.

If you have that problem, there are practical tools that can help. Three “themes of thinking” can be used to inform this process and overcome its challenges.

1. Ockham’s Razor

Ockham’s razor is a principle attributed to a fourteenth-century English logician, William of Ockham.

Ockham’s razor (sometimes referred to as the law of economy) is based on the idea that the simplest solution is always the best. In using this principle, elements that are not needed should be pared back to produce something simpler.

When evaluating your designs, analyze each element and “shave away” as many as possible, without compromising the overall function. This will minimize inconsistency and redundancy as much as possible while retaining features that still work perfectly.

Want to take it a step further? Ask another artist to critique your work and to identify spots that aren’t clear or effective.

2. KISS

KISS is a design acronym for “Keep It Short and Simple.”

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Similar to Ockham’s razor, the idea is to pare back a design, so it is as easy as possible to understand and interpret. KISS means keeping layouts clean, text basic and easy to read, and your graphic flow a breeze to navigate.

Beyond just minimalism, KISS requires a sharp understanding of the message that must be communicated and the mindset of the audience you’re targeting.

3. Focus

A company may have many products or projects, but focused designs should accentuate only the most important.

The principle of focus demands you ask one question: what is the first piece of information people should encounter? To employ the principle of focus, accentuate key graphics or headlines, and avoid featuring equally weighted objects on one page. When several objects are a similar size, it forces competition among them and fatigues the reader.

Focus also requires you to streamline content. Information about non-focal points of the product or company can be distributed via other print materials, brochures, or your website.

Activate Empty Space to Stretch Your Designs

In the flatness of 2D screens, it is easy to forget that a third, spatial dimension is available to you.

Graphic artists who activate space-savvy designs have the ability to reach into the paper and stretch the depth of their space. Try these three principles to craft aesthetically compelling, easy-to-read designs!

Basics Design 08: Design Thinking

by Gavin Ambrose, Paul Harris

Basics Design 08: Design Thinking is an introduction to the process of generating creative ideas and concepts. It teaches the generation of ideas as a practical skill, vital to the creation of successful design. This focus on ideas and methods eschews an abstract, academic approach in favour of a useable methodology for design as a problem-solving activity. This is supported by practical work examples and case studies from leading contemporary design studios, accompanied by concise descriptions, technical expansions and diagrammatic visualizations.

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