One of the great obstacles entrepreneurs face when developing their products and services is great design.
Particularly in the case of software which is highly interactive, clean, attractive and functional design is fundamental to the success of the whole business.
While businesses leaders often delegate the responsibility of creating the visual or aesthetic framework of the business, it is important that entrepreneurs be conscious of design fundamentals.
As previously expressed throughout ZWW everything within business is connected.
The aesthetic framework presented by a business through their products and promotional materials is the first element potential customers will experience when learning about the business and determine before making a purchasing decision.
Therefore, leaders should take the time to understand the broad components of developing good design, and be heavily invested in the process of building a successful aesthetic framework.
Here, we examine a number of valuable aesthetic elements that together fit into a design framework.
Components of Design
When designing great products, entrepreneurs should consider the following guide that outlines specific components which together frame every design object or element:
The linear marls made with a pen or brush or the edge created when two shapes meet. There are various types of of lines including; straight, squiggly, curved, etc... Lines can be used for a variety of purposes such as; stressing a word or phrase, connecting content to one another, or creating patterns.
All lines have direction - Horizontal, Vertical or Oblique. Horizontal suggests calmness, stability and tranquility. Vertical gives a feeling of balance, formality and alertness. Oblique suggests movement and action.
Height + width = shape. A shape is a self contained defined area of geometric or organic free formed shapes. Positive shapes automatically create negative shapes. There are thee types of shapes: geometric (triangles, squares, circles, etc...), natural (leaves, animals, trees people, etc...), and abstract (icons, stylizations, graphic representations, etc..).
Value represents how light or dark an area looks. A gradient is a excellent visualization of value. Use value to create depth and light to create a pattern, in each case both depth and light can lead the eye or to promote emphasis.
Size refers to the relationship between an area occupied by one shape to an area occupied by another shape. Size can be used to define importance, create visual interest in a design, and attract attention to a specific area/content.
Space, sometimes referred as negative space, corresponds to the area around or between elements in design. It can be used to separate or group information. It can be efficiently used to give the eye a rest, define importance, and lead the eye through a specified area of content.
Represents the surface quality of a shape - rough, smooth, soft hard, glossy etc. Use texture as a way to create depth and visual interest. Printed material has actual, textile texture, while visual information through screens/monitors have implied texture.
Color is light reflected off objects. Color has three main characteristics: hue or its name (red, green, blue, etc.), value (how light or dark it is), and intensity (how bright or dull it is). Color is used to generate emotions, define importance or an atmosphere, and create visual interest. There are various color types (primary to analogous) and different color relationships (monochromatic to triad), which are worth examining for the purpose of creating great design elements.
In a period increasingly dependent on high visual design standards, particularly for web and software developers, business leaders should examine the design elements of successful companies, products, and/or applications to guide their own endeavors.
Examining the success of others, particularly as it relates to design, is the easiest was entrepreneurs and their teams can determine what effective design looks like, and adapt it to their own projects.
Principles of Design
Following the elements outlined above, entrepreneurs should also closely examine the following design principles when developing their products.
Balance in design is similar to balance in physics. A large shape close to the center can be balanced by a small shape close to the edge. Balance provides stability and structure to a design. It’s the weight distributed in the design by the placement of your elements.
Creates relationships between elements. It provides a focal point. Proximity doesn’t mean that elements have to be placed together, it means they should be visually connected in someway.
Allows us to create order and organization. Aligning elements allows them to create a visual connection with each other.
Refers to the way different design elements interact through animation. Using movement can bring your designs to life, increase the level of user interaction, and foster greater appreciation for your creative design.
Refers to the placement of design elements, and helps produce a sense of calm and beauty for your designs. The human eye is naturally attracted to symmetry, so use it as often as you can.
Allows people, or in the case of software users, to more easily navigate your design. Through scale, line and color, hierarchy can also signal the degree of importance or value among different design elements.
Depending on your specific design purpose, it can be valuable to break the general rules and organize your design elements asymmetrically.
Strengthens a design by tying together individual elements. It helps to create association and consistency. Repetition can create rhythm (a feeling of organized movement).
Represents the juxtaposition of opposing elements (opposite colors on the color wheel, or value light / dark, or direction - horizontal / vertical). Contrast emphasizes or highlights key elements in our design.
Gives dimension to your creative work, particularly for 2D designs. Using texture, shadows, 3D effects and horizon lines can add depth to your design elements.
Helps highlight specific design elements, emphasize purpose, and can produce a distinct aesthetic. Framing also helps crop images in a consistent and interesting ways.
Represents the opacity of an object or element. Using transparency can improve the way different design elements interact and create movement between objects. Transparency should be used intentionally, otherwise it can produce confusion.
Refers to the distance or area between, around, above, below, or within elements. Both positive and negative space are important factors to be considered.
Refers to the ease with which users are able to orient themselves and move from one page to another. Clear iconography and simple representations are essential to guide users throughout the app.
Refers to the structure of your design elements. Particularly for web and software designs, it can be used in a variety of ways to align design elements and efficiently guide users.
Represents the choice of font, font size, color, spacing, line length and stylization used throughout the application.
Corresponds to the broad arrangement of all your design elements. It is important to be purposeful with your composition and use scale, depth and hierarchy to foster clarity and ensure that your designs can be easily understood.
How well our application responds to changes in screen size and device parameters.
Of all the principles, entrepreneurs should not underestimate the value of balance throughout their aesthetic and design work. Balance does not only relate to the visual structure, but also the placement of interactive features and product information.
Given the importance of mobile, it is essential for leaders and design teams to allow for flexible design spaces that can adapt to different screen sizes. Accomplishing this requires eliminating wasteful design elements and unnecessary information.
Consider design across all sectors and markets, one theme reigns true; simplicity is powerful.
Only include what is absolutely necessary for your customer to understand the product and feel inspired to make a purchasing decision.
Moreover, simple and clean webspaces allow potential customers to focus on the most important elements of your the product or service. Too much information on a cluttered webspace will overwhelm potential customers, foster a negative perspective of your offering, and ultimately result in few sales.
Over time, it is important that businesses cyclically iterate their design framework to match industry standards and popular trends, but also work hard to remain distinctive. Cultivating this balance is essential and more art than science, so practice and test design elements with specific of general audiences.
Ultimately, great design calls for the development of a unique, clear and representative aesthetic framework for any business.
And, for software a clear design framework must be accompanied with a seamless process for views to transform into customers in the most efficient way possible.
To develop the best possible aesthetic framework, always start from nothing. It is better to build from a blank canvas than to try and adapt old, outdated designs to new contemporary standards.
Ensuring that a business and its products remain familiar is important, but the artifacts of the past should not completely dictate the design possibilities of the future.
As Leonardo Da Vinci said centuries ago, “A painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light.”
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