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Nine Habits of Highly
Effective Designers
Department of Urban Studies and Planning
• Present a simple set of principles to follow for novice designers
• Outline a set of typical problems and gotchas
• Provide common guidelines for designers to fall back on
• Establish a workflow for creating simple and effective graphics
WORKSHOP GOALS
• Effective design can be lasting and powerful
• You have to know the rules before you can break them
WORKSHOP GOALS
“It is not about how much information there is, but rather how effectively it is
arranged.”
-EdwardTufte
What is Graphic Design?
The art of communication, stylizing, and problem solving
through type and image.
Functional and utility-driven. Composition is of high importance.
Basic Elements
Typography and Font
Textual Content
Color and Hue
Page Layout and Balance
Manipulation of Image
Urban Planning Graphics
Urban Planning Graphics
Urban Planning Graphics
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
• MBTA Map Competition
• Graphs and charts
• Websites
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Less is always more
• When in doubt, keep it simple
• The effective use of negative space is a hallmark of good design – design the negative
space just as you would the positive space. Ask yourself:“What elements can I remove or
simplify and still retain my message?” Pare it down to the essentials.
• For repetitive information, remember the “rule of small multiples.”
Remove noise
Skip items that don’t have meaning.They are what is known in the
design world as “noise”.
Habits of Effective Designers
Habits of Effective Designers
Habits of Effective Designers
Be hierarchical.
• Communicate the relative importance of data through variations in size, weight, and
intensity.You should be able to squint and clearly understand a hierarchy of your
composition.
Habits of Effective Designers
Habits of Effective Designers
Good design has CRAP.
• It’s okay if you have a lot to fit.
• Contrast, Repetition,Alignment, and Proximity: use these principles to allow your
audience to easily follow the connections between your ideas and the message of the
graphic.
Habits of Effective Designers
Habits of Effective Designers
Habits of Effective Designers
Just two fonts.
• Good design can be achieved with just one or two fonts.As a general rule, sans serif fonts
work well for titles, headers, and electronic media. Serif fonts work well for body text in
print media.The most useful fonts have many weights to choose from.
Habits of Effective Designers
Habits of Effective Designers
Sans Serif Favorites
• Can be used anywhere, good for headers and titles
Arial
Calibri
Eurostile
Franklin Gothic
Gill Sans
Helvetica
Lucida Sans
Myriad Pro Bold
Swiss 721 Condensed
Swiss 721 Black Condensed
Verdana
Serif Favorites
• Good for bodies, abstracts, and content
Cambria
Baskerville
Garamond
Times New Roman
Non-Favorites
• Use sparingly, by that, I mean probably never.
Brush Script
Comic Sans
Magic number twelve.
• The human mind looks for natural proportions of 2, 3, and 4.As the least common
denominator, 12 is an extremely useful number for column layout, and it’s also a good
point size multiple for fonts (12 pt, 24 pt, 36 pt, etc).A good rule of thumb is that a
column of text should be about 60 characters wide for your eyes to easily follow.
• Rule of thumb for prose and text blocks:
• Print graphics: use no smaller than 6 point type
• Screen-based graphics: Use no smaller than 10 point type
Habits of Effective Designers
Imitate. (But don’t copy.)
• Beg, borrow – but don’t steal – ideas for beautiful posters and graphics from experienced
designers.
Habits of Effective Designers
Habits of Effective Designers
Be color conscious.
• Like a well-written paragraph, each graphic should have a singular message. Use color to
unify your message and highlight differences.
Bold and Contrasting Colors
Use BOLD and CONTRASTING
colors.
Dark text on a light backgrounds.
Light text on dark backgrounds.
Should hold up to non-color
printing.
Pick a Palette
Find known and established color
ramps and palettes.
http://kuler.adobe.com
http://macwright.org/d3-curvy
http://tristen.ca/hcl-picker
See handout
Habits of Effective Designers
Don’t go off the grid.
• Effective graphics follow strict principles of alignment and justification.
• Grid your design for a clean and professional finish.
Portrait Landscape
Orientation Matters…
Layout Matters…
Alignment is important
(and professional)
Recommendation
Organize your poster with a grid
Photography “The rule of thirds”
The Grid
The Grid
The Margin
Make your margins consistent.
Approximately ½ inch around the top
and sides.
Visual Center of the Page
The visual center of your page is
NOT the same as the geometric
center.
Visual center is slightly above the
geometric center
Layout Matters…
Create a template.
You can reuse an
effective poster over
and over, changing the
elements.
Design at size.
• Layout your graphics at the proper size before you proceed with your creation process.
• Goal: Never scale your graphics once they are complete.
Design at Size
Design your Poster at the size of
your final product.
Set settings in your design software to
the desired size of your final output.
Design at Size
Design your Poster at the size of
your final product.
Prevents pixilation of images, allows for
proper sizing of text to maximize
legibility
Some other thoughts…
Here at MIT, we do a lot of poster design… let’s discuss!!
Image Selection
Sometimes you don’t have a
choice…
Book Cover
Pre-chosen Event Logo
Bold and Beautiful
But often you do…
Choose images that are:
Bold
Relevant
Colorful
Indicative
Let the Image Guide You
Use the image, beautiful pictures
have a built in layout for you.
Place text in areas with least
amount of noise and largest blocks
of bold colors
TRANSIT IN BOSTON
A ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION
THURS JAN 18, 9PM, ROOM 9-450
Resources
http://www.flickr.com
http://commons.wikimedia.org
See handout
Copyrighted Images:
When in doubt, cite your source.
Image Guidelines
Use the largest image possible that
you can find.
Know your pixel size.
Letter size =
1275 pixels by 1650 pixels
Try to choose no smaller than
this.
Event Poster Digestion
• Should be able to get main gist of poster
in seconds
• < 15 seconds
• Most viewers will see it in passing
• More in waiting area
• Less in hallway
Event Poster Font Size
•Title/Main content: 48-60pt+
•Supplemental text: 24-36pt
•Abstract/Body: 18-24pt
•Stay big. Use no smaller than 12!
Lots of Software Available
•Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator
•GIMP/Inkscape
•Microsoft Powerpoint/Paint
The tool does not make your graphic, you do.
Use the tools you have!
End.
•We just covered a lot
•Questions/Comments/Complaints
Special thanks to Chris Rhie and Annemarie Gray

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Habits of Effective Designers

  • 1. Nine Habits of Highly Effective Designers Department of Urban Studies and Planning
  • 2. • Present a simple set of principles to follow for novice designers • Outline a set of typical problems and gotchas • Provide common guidelines for designers to fall back on • Establish a workflow for creating simple and effective graphics WORKSHOP GOALS
  • 3. • Effective design can be lasting and powerful • You have to know the rules before you can break them WORKSHOP GOALS
  • 4. “It is not about how much information there is, but rather how effectively it is arranged.” -EdwardTufte
  • 5. What is Graphic Design? The art of communication, stylizing, and problem solving through type and image. Functional and utility-driven. Composition is of high importance.
  • 6. Basic Elements Typography and Font Textual Content Color and Hue Page Layout and Balance Manipulation of Image
  • 10. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly • MBTA Map Competition • Graphs and charts • Websites
  • 11. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  • 12. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  • 13. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  • 14. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  • 15. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  • 16. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  • 17. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  • 18. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  • 19. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  • 20. Less is always more • When in doubt, keep it simple • The effective use of negative space is a hallmark of good design – design the negative space just as you would the positive space. Ask yourself:“What elements can I remove or simplify and still retain my message?” Pare it down to the essentials. • For repetitive information, remember the “rule of small multiples.”
  • 21. Remove noise Skip items that don’t have meaning.They are what is known in the design world as “noise”.
  • 25. Be hierarchical. • Communicate the relative importance of data through variations in size, weight, and intensity.You should be able to squint and clearly understand a hierarchy of your composition.
  • 28. Good design has CRAP. • It’s okay if you have a lot to fit. • Contrast, Repetition,Alignment, and Proximity: use these principles to allow your audience to easily follow the connections between your ideas and the message of the graphic.
  • 32. Just two fonts. • Good design can be achieved with just one or two fonts.As a general rule, sans serif fonts work well for titles, headers, and electronic media. Serif fonts work well for body text in print media.The most useful fonts have many weights to choose from.
  • 35. Sans Serif Favorites • Can be used anywhere, good for headers and titles Arial Calibri Eurostile Franklin Gothic Gill Sans Helvetica Lucida Sans Myriad Pro Bold Swiss 721 Condensed Swiss 721 Black Condensed Verdana
  • 36. Serif Favorites • Good for bodies, abstracts, and content Cambria Baskerville Garamond Times New Roman
  • 37. Non-Favorites • Use sparingly, by that, I mean probably never. Brush Script Comic Sans
  • 38. Magic number twelve. • The human mind looks for natural proportions of 2, 3, and 4.As the least common denominator, 12 is an extremely useful number for column layout, and it’s also a good point size multiple for fonts (12 pt, 24 pt, 36 pt, etc).A good rule of thumb is that a column of text should be about 60 characters wide for your eyes to easily follow. • Rule of thumb for prose and text blocks: • Print graphics: use no smaller than 6 point type • Screen-based graphics: Use no smaller than 10 point type
  • 40. Imitate. (But don’t copy.) • Beg, borrow – but don’t steal – ideas for beautiful posters and graphics from experienced designers.
  • 43. Be color conscious. • Like a well-written paragraph, each graphic should have a singular message. Use color to unify your message and highlight differences.
  • 44. Bold and Contrasting Colors Use BOLD and CONTRASTING colors. Dark text on a light backgrounds. Light text on dark backgrounds. Should hold up to non-color printing.
  • 45. Pick a Palette Find known and established color ramps and palettes. http://kuler.adobe.com http://macwright.org/d3-curvy http://tristen.ca/hcl-picker See handout
  • 47. Don’t go off the grid. • Effective graphics follow strict principles of alignment and justification. • Grid your design for a clean and professional finish.
  • 49. Layout Matters… Alignment is important (and professional) Recommendation Organize your poster with a grid Photography “The rule of thirds”
  • 52. The Margin Make your margins consistent. Approximately ½ inch around the top and sides.
  • 53. Visual Center of the Page The visual center of your page is NOT the same as the geometric center. Visual center is slightly above the geometric center
  • 54. Layout Matters… Create a template. You can reuse an effective poster over and over, changing the elements.
  • 55. Design at size. • Layout your graphics at the proper size before you proceed with your creation process. • Goal: Never scale your graphics once they are complete.
  • 56. Design at Size Design your Poster at the size of your final product. Set settings in your design software to the desired size of your final output.
  • 57. Design at Size Design your Poster at the size of your final product. Prevents pixilation of images, allows for proper sizing of text to maximize legibility
  • 58. Some other thoughts… Here at MIT, we do a lot of poster design… let’s discuss!!
  • 59. Image Selection Sometimes you don’t have a choice… Book Cover Pre-chosen Event Logo
  • 60. Bold and Beautiful But often you do… Choose images that are: Bold Relevant Colorful Indicative
  • 61. Let the Image Guide You Use the image, beautiful pictures have a built in layout for you. Place text in areas with least amount of noise and largest blocks of bold colors TRANSIT IN BOSTON A ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION THURS JAN 18, 9PM, ROOM 9-450
  • 63. Image Guidelines Use the largest image possible that you can find. Know your pixel size. Letter size = 1275 pixels by 1650 pixels Try to choose no smaller than this.
  • 64. Event Poster Digestion • Should be able to get main gist of poster in seconds • < 15 seconds • Most viewers will see it in passing • More in waiting area • Less in hallway
  • 65. Event Poster Font Size •Title/Main content: 48-60pt+ •Supplemental text: 24-36pt •Abstract/Body: 18-24pt •Stay big. Use no smaller than 12!
  • 66. Lots of Software Available •Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator •GIMP/Inkscape •Microsoft Powerpoint/Paint The tool does not make your graphic, you do. Use the tools you have!
  • 67. End. •We just covered a lot •Questions/Comments/Complaints Special thanks to Chris Rhie and Annemarie Gray