10 rules of digital media

Over the previous three years, we’ve established these ground rules as part of our interactive projects. They are an essential component of our methodology at Adept Creative. We can achieve excellent results if we stick to them.

Furthermore, you’ll notice that many of them are equally applicable to print and new media. The medium has little bearing on the design: design is solely concerned with information and communication. Digital media design differs from print design only in terms of the talents necessary and the way its produced.

Search for oneness

Oneness works really well when you don’t know what the content is going to be.

One approach to deal with content that hasn’t occurred yet is to utilize a data-driven system. In other words, here are the places for pictures, text, and numerical information. Another alternative is to categorize by subject and sub-topic rather than data type… Advertising goes here, site content goes here, products go here, history goes here. Consider your interface to be a suitcase; you don’t know how many hats, shoes, pants, and socks you’ll need until you pack them all in there.

Reuse frameworks

You don’t have to start from the ground up on every project. It’s about considering whether you can reuse frameworks. Even though your visual design isn’t reusable, it is built on top of scaffolding. There’s a secret opportunity for resale here. Once you’ve established a framework that works for a specific sort of activity or information, you can reuse it the next time you encounter similar needs in a project.

The tools that deliver the message, while perhaps changing, may be identical. This begins to imbue your structures with inherent value as distinct products. Think about print design: the table of contents was developed to help people find out what was in a book and where to find it; the copyright information is always on a certain page. Think about landing page design, title, subheading, CTA button, logo on the left, nav menu on the right. These data types are so familiar that we don’t see the structures that hold them. Really good design is design that becomes invisible.

Fonts are your friends

If you have been treated well by Gill Sans, Helvetica, or Din, then they’re your friends and deserve to be reused. Choose a few favorites and get to know them well – each typeface has its own set of rules. Continue to use that font if you’ve learned what the restrictions are.

Don’t try to express emotions through the use of type. Use the one font that becomes a unit with everything else, fits the form and space available, and allows the message to get through.

Design it from a perspective

Although building user-profiles and segments can give you insight into who is visiting your website. The site’s content and design might not be conducive to a consumer’s typical reading and cognitive processes. For example, a certain topic or piece of information may be misunderstood because it isn’t presented correctly in the user interface. In addition, he can’t account for all of the sites’ contexts and modes of reading and reasoning that all of its users will. If you try to be that comprehensive, you’ll just get confused. Put yourself in the place of the user but don’t overanalyze it. Just make it simple, obvious, and direct.

Ration the information

Use short, clear paragraphs to convey information. Reduce the text to manageable chunks that a youngster could comprehend. If you can’t make your point in a paragraph, there’s probably not much of one.

It’s all about knowing what to include and what to leave out when it comes to good user interface design. You can go as deep as necessary, but giving readers the main point first allows them to delve further if they wish. When you need more depth, you can always use the tactic of progressive disclosure. You can always design deeper. The real challenge is to make it brief.

Use visual language that works.

Imagine having to drive your car with ropes and pulleys one day, and push buttons the next. It’s not going to work. The same is true with interactive design. Find a set of conventions, devices, windows, and so on that best serves everything in the site.

Say it with words

Always lay out an interface in words first. Instead of starting by creating icons or shapes, start by creating a typographic system. Draw a window and write out “image here”, “Heading 1” , “Heading 2”,Later, when you place the actual branding copy, this typographic system can help you practice the rule of information rationing.

Sometimes you don’t need icons at all. Words alone may be more effective in conveying a message. Icons, especially generic icons, might be interpreted in a number of ways. Is that an athlete running down the street or is he trying to escape from the cops?

Reality, Stay away from it.

Create a design for the content you’re providing. Don’t duplicate something that people have seen before because they’ll compare it to the real world and it won’t live up.

For example I was hired once to design a visual timeline history of an organization. They handed me a pill of binders and I started to sort the content into 11 piles. These piles became 11 grids and those 11 piles of psychal content revealed the visual structure that I would implement in the project.

We had to break down the information into its most basic data types since we were hired to bring order to the chaos. You can’t do this if you’re too invested in the actual content, so you need to take a step back until all you see is picture 1, picture 2, picture 3 rather than car, building, face.

Sketch it out

It’s critical to do all of your preliminary concept development on paper, since the process should be quick. It shouldn’t be about the form or finish. Sketches are also important for iterative development. You may go through a lot of iterations of your concept in a short time by making rapid sketches, and testing your ideas.

If you make your first theoretical ideas into sketches, clients will be able to picture the design instead of being concerned about color and typeface. If you can’t convey your concepts in quick sketches, there’s a problem; but if they like your concepts and initial sketchwork, hold off on showing them the completed item.

Trust yourself

Show the client one viable concept. Make a lot of sketches, go through a long process, and give it your all. Then incorporate all of this into the concept book. This supports back up your idea with trial and error, iteration, and research.

Mike Robinson Director at Adept Creative

by Mike Robinson
Creative Director.

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