Friday, March 5, 2010

Unique Perspective on Critique

We all can have different opinion of painting, but I came across this beautiful way of expressing this which got stuck with me. Here is the image by Mark Tansey, "A Short History of Modernism" to illustrate the point.

"What someone takes from an image or design is a product of what they bring to it !" - David A. Lauer in Design Basics.

David says that the critique process can include a range of responses suggested by Mark Tansey painting.

  • Your work subjected to aggressive cleansing process
  • You may feel you are butting your head against the wall.
  • And that someone takes from an image or design is a product of what they bring to it!

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Difference between Movement and Rhythm in a design

Movement is the illusion of motion created by lines, shapes or color that cause the eye to move over the design along those shapes, where as rythm is the regular repetition of lines, shapes, or color that creates a pattern to the overall design. A rythm in the picture can also create a movement. For example the famous Starry Night painting by Van gogh,

The picture shows movement by the unique painting of cloud/wind which seems to move from left to write, where as the same style of shape is used for stars, moon and the overall color gives a rythm to the whole design.

To create rythm in the picture you need to have repetition of line, shape, color, or style in the picture or a combination of these things.

To create movement, the design should have a sense of flow in the picture, a sense of direction. A rythm in the picture can also cause a movement.

How would you create them ?

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Monday, March 1, 2010

The Gestalt Theory of Visual Psychology

In an attempt to organize the various elements of a composition, a designer's job is actually made simpler by the viewer, because he or she is looking for some sort of organization, some way to relate the various elements. Psychologically, the viewer wants to find some sort of discernible pattern or unity within a design. The viewer will always try to create order out of chaos. The Gestalt theory of visual psychology tries to explain this phenomenon by providing a set of rules. These rules help predict what a viewer's perception will be when given certain visual stimuli.

The Six laws of perceptual organization are:

  1. Pragnanz (Good Figure)
  2. Similarity
  3. Good Continuation
  4. Proximity
  5. Common Fate
  6. Familiarity

Pragnanz (Good Figure)

The law of Pragnanz or the law of good figure states that every stimulus pattern is seen in such a way that the resulting structure is as simple as possible. This means that the viewer will always try to organize the elements of a design into the simplest pattern possible. A square that is overlapping a triangle is seen as two simple overlapping shapes, rather than a single more complex polygon.


The law of similarity states that similar visual elements appear to be grouped together. Elements of a design that look alike are organized into a group. So squares are visually grouped together with other squares, and circles are visually grouped together with other circles.

Good Continuation

The law of good continuation states that a series of visual elements connected in a straight or curved line is seen as belonging together. A series of forms lined up in a path will be visually grouped together, even if that path is interrupted by another form. The law also states that lines tend to be seen in such a way as to follow the smoothest path.


The law of proximity states that visual elements which are near to each other are grouped together. Even if the elements of a design are not similar in form, they may be seen as belonging together if they are close to each other in the composition. A circle and a square will be grouped together if they are in proximity of one another.

Common Fate

The law of common fate states that visual elements which appear to be moving in the same direction will be grouped together. Two forms with similar orientations will appear to belong with one another. For example, a triangle and a rectangle will be grouped together if they both appear to be moving in the same direction in the composition.


The law of familiarity states that visual elements are more likely to form a group if that group of elements appears meaningful or familiar. If the individual forms of a design create a larger, more recognizable form, then those forms are grouped together. If a rectangle and a triangle are arranged in such a way that they resemble the form of a house, then those shapes are seen as a group.

These six laws of perceptual organization allow us to represent objects from the real world in a two-dimensional composition. They explain how a viewer is able to take a bunch of seemingly disparate shapes in a design and organize them into something recognizable. An understanding of these six laws will help you make decisions on how to arrange the individual elements of your design, and predict how they will be perceived.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What Makes a Good Design

A good design in my opinion, needs to achieve its goal clearly, what it was primarily meant for.

    The goal of the design can be:

  • Solving a problem creatively
  • Communicating an idea effectively
  • Plain aesthetic, which makes people wonder

To solve a problem creatively "Form follow function" is a great principle because its focus is the functionality which is the solution to the given problem. To communicate an idea effectively, visual delight becomes more important, effective display of the core idea with the help of minimum amount of pictures, words or illustration makes a greater impact. Plain aesthetic design can be achieved with both simplicity as well as abstractness, it is not limited to any design principles and neither are means to an end. It could be a visual delight and can also reflect an Idea.

So what makes people wonder ?
I think that this quality is the impact of a good design.

  1. One way would be to make it very simplistic, for example Picaso's famous painting make people wonder because of the simplicity.

  2. Another way is if the picture has extraordinary depth for example the Barbershop by Norman Rockwell has amazing lightings

  3. yet another way to make people wonder is by hidden meaning or trick in the picture

So what do you think ?

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Paperclip Principle

Paperclip principle is a minimalist design principle for developing software user interfaces. The Paperclip principle is inspired by the most popular kind of Paper clip. The GEM Paper clip, out of more than 40 different kinds of Paper-clip became popular and is still in use.

The fact that the GEM Paper-clip, inspite of made of wire, have rounded edges, which makes it look smooth and harmless, is easily understandable and use, makes it a great case study for user interfaces. The Paperclip Principle is based on the assumption that

''Most effective designs are least complicated''

This can be proved using a number of popular examples currently available, user interfaces for desktop applications, web applications as well as mobile applications.
To apply Paperclip principle to a user interface design, you need to take care of only three things:

Make the user interface:
* Easy to Look at
* Easy to Understand
* Easy to Use

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Vote Now: 10 Tips for Mobile Web Design !

How to create a mobile version of your website? Do you need to optimize your current website for mobile devices or design a completely new website? Do you need to worry about different platforms, Windows Mobile, iPhone, Symbian, Blackberry, Linux, Brew, Android, and Nokia? What resolution, what screen size you should target, and what is this PPI anyway? How to design for maximum number of users and devices, in the least amount of time? In this session, mobile web usability expert and author of "Beginning Smartphone Web Development", Rajesh Lal will discuss ten pragmatic tips, for designing website for mobile devices.

Interested ? VOTE for it at Mix 10 (1. Add to ballot,2. Submit ballot)

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ten Tips for Designing Mobile Widgets

Maemo Summit, 11 Oct, 2009 Amsterdam Netherlands

Abstract: Do you know why only 1 percent of Mobile Widgets are successful ? What makes some widgets thrive and used by millions, and others with equal functionality bite the dust ? Make no mistakes, design of a widget is not about graphics, colour or fonts. This presentation will demystify this 'invisible' layer below the surface with 10 pragmatic tips. The tips will cover some of the most useful, and often ignored standard design principals and how to apply them in a mobile context.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

How to Create a Good User Experience - Part I

How to Create a Good User Experience I

Good User Experinence starts with understanding three things

1. Understanding the Primary purpose of the application
2. Understanding a Typical user of your application
3. Understanding the Context in which the application will be used

Primary purpose of the Application

To identify the primary purpose of an Application, you have to create a statement of purpose, a one line definition of your application which completely covers the purpose of the application. It should clearly state what is the problem it solves.

For example,

A portable camera: A light weight camera for students for quick and easy, point and shoot
An SLR Camera: A High Tech Camera for Professionals with XYZ zoom, ABC features and PQR functionalty. This also should reflect in the name of the application. Here are some examples of BEST SELLERS in Amazon

* Garmin nĂ¼vi 255W 4.3-Inch Widescreen Portable GPS Navigator
* Flip UltraHD Camcorder, 120 Minutes
* ATC2K Waterproof Action Cam

The name of the product just define it all, that's the purpose of the application. A One liner which can define it accurately and precisely.

Understanding Typical User

A typical user of your application is the most common type of user, like in my earlier presentation I said Typical user for Blackberry is Business Executives. Understanding typical user involves finding out

* The users, are they managers, house wifes, creative people or mathematicians
* Intelligence level of the user
* What is there knowledge about the application
* How are they solving the problem right now, which your application is meant for

Understanding the Context
Understanding the Context means understanding the location, the surrounding, the scenario in which the application will be used.

Is it going to be used by a Truck Driver while driving or by a Housewife while cooking ? What might be the user scenario when using your application. A simple camera might be used by friends in a birthday events, A high-tech camera might have to be taken to places.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

User Experience - An Introduction

Click here to download the presentation

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Friday, October 17, 2008

User Interface Design

Designing Great User Interfaces

The third part of the User Experience presentation.
User Interface Design
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: user experience)

Click here to download the presentation

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Web Usability

Tips on Designing great web pages

The second part of the User Experience presentation.
Web Usability
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: user experience)

Click here to download the presentation

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Books on Design and User Experience

Recently, a fellow visitor asked me about recommended books on design and user experience. Here is my favorite books on the topic.

1. The design of everyday things - Donald A. Norman

2. Universal Principles of Design - William Lidwell

3. The Non-Designer's Design book - Robin Williams

4. Don't make me think - Steve Krug

Feel free to add your favorite to the list.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

What is User Experience ?

The level of satisfaction an average user gets from a product

Satisfaction relates to, how much user

  • Like the product
  • Understand the product
  • Able to Use the product
  • Average User

  • 80 percent of the User with common traits
  • A Typical User

  • Product

  • An application for desktop, web or a mobile device
  • A Commodity
  • Hardware Device

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    Tuesday, July 8, 2008

    Design & User Experience

    "Design & User Experience" is an attempt to understand the design and user experience as it relates to a desktop, web and mobile application.

    Here are the topics, I will explore

    • Design Fundamentals
    • Elements of Design
    • What are the Principles of Design ?
    • What is a User Experience ?
    • What is a User Interface Design ?

    I would love to hear your opinion - Rajesh Lal

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