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Как и в любой профессии или работе, у дизайна есть свои правила.

While breaking design rules is allowed and even (in some circumstances) encouraged, it’s important to at least be aware of the rules you are breaking so you can break them the right way.

From typography to layout, right through to colour and special effects, this list runs through a few basic rules, tips, tricks and guides to some common errors and how to banish them from your design.

01. Don’t Forget To Kern

Kerning

Somebody once said that if you truly hate someone, teach them how to recognise bad kerning. A shoddy kerning job is one of the cardinal sins in the world of design, so it’s an important skill to nail down early on.

Kerning is the adjustment of space between characters. It doesn’t sound like much, but a good kerning job can make a world of difference. The ultimate goal of kerning is to ensure that the space between each letter is visually even to make for a neat and orderly piece of text.

While we’ll run over a few typographical mistakes in this list, be sure to also check out these 20 other typographic mistakes that you should avoid at all costs.

02. Don’t Disregard Readability/Legibility For Aesthetic Reasons

Legibility

I’m sure I’ve said this a million times, but the primary purpose of design is communication, so it makes sense that the readability and legibility of your type is a top priority.

So, what hinders readability and legibility? Well, a number of things can affect how much effort your reader has to put in. A common example is too low of a contrast between the text and background, keep contrast high to prevent this issue.

Another common mistake is the overuse of capital letters. Not only do capital letters make the reader feel like they are being YELLED AT, they also hinder the eye’s ability to distinguish letterforms. This is because when executed in caps, each letter has the same x-height and block-like shape, whereas in lowercase, the letterforms are more uniquely shaped, allowing for the eye to more easily identify each letter and word.

One other mistake is type size, the usual offender being type that is too small. Consider your audience, would they have a difficult time reading this type? If you’re unsure do test prints and ask for others’ opinions, while your eyes may read it perfectly fine, others may not.

The takeaway is predominantly this: just because it looks good, doesn’t always mean it communicates well. Treat your type with care!

03. Keep Your Line Lengths Short

Print

Have you ever struggled to get through an otherwise interesting magazine article? Or perhaps lost your place each time you tried to go to a new line? This may be the fault of badly structured line lengths.

The golden number for body copy line lengths is a minimum of six words per line and an average of about 30-40 characters (including spaces) on each line. Any less and your sentences will be too choppy, any more and you risk your sentences becoming tedious and difficult for the eye to get through.

04. Have Purposeful Hierarchy

Hierarchy

Just like within a lot of natural orders, a strong and purposeful hierarchy is a pretty powerful tool. Within the realm of design, hierarchy concerns the arrangement of visual elements in order to signify importance. So, the more important elements are made to hold the most attention through scale, colour, type etc. and the least important elements are made to hold less attention.

An element that hierarchy is most evidently used in is typography, so let’s look at an example of hierarchy using some type. In the included example, have a look at the way the first invitation is laid out, all the type is given the same size and weight, making all the information hard to gather in a quick skim. The example to the right, however, has had a little bit of hierarchy introduced to the type. Even with just the smallest adjustments to the colour, weight and size of certain elements, the information becomes way easier to digest and make sense of.

05. Practise Appropriate Word Spacing

Print

As a designer, dealing with a body of type is almost an inevitability, and it’s not always easy. There are lots of rules and elements to take into consideration, and here’s a pretty important one: word and letter spacing. There are two main points of spacing we’ll run over: tracking and leading.\

Leading is the adjustment of space between vertical lines of type. There are a lot of things that determine what leading you should use – from your choice of typeface, how much text you have to work with etc. But, a good rule of thumb is this: longer line lengths often require a bit more leading than shorter line lengths.

While kerning is often done manually, when you have a large body of text and a tight deadline, there often isn’t time to manually adjust each space, which is where tracking comes in handy. The tracking tool adjusts the space between characters and words in a more general way than kerning. Tracking is a great way of getting rid of rivers or awkward line lengths in type. In body text, like with leading, a good rule to stick by is to keep longer line lengths tracked ‘loosely’ and shorter line lengths tracked a bit ‘tighter’ for maximum readability.

Another handy rule of thumb for word spacing is, for smaller bodies that are more reasonable to manually alter, a common practise is to imagine a lowercase ‘i’ in between each word and adjust your space accordingly, but of course this all depends on the typeface and the situation etc.