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A Tiny Tina Tutorial on Science-Based Design

Design Basics Simplified: The Three Design Elements

Learning design can be confusing and overwhelming. With the InfoDev approach, it's easy! Using a science-based approach, we help you discover what you already know and use it consciously and methodically, rather than based on guesswork and instinct. We present design basics in a way that is both easy to master and prepares you to make even the most difficult design decisions. Get a peek below!

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Introduction

Science-Based Design


If you want to create content that is easy to find, read, use, understand, and remember, then you must become proficient in design, as well as writing. Learning design always starts with the “Design Basics,” which consist of Design Elements and Design Principles. Design Elements are the fundamental building blocks of content, and Design Principles describe the way the elements interact with one another.

Too often, expert designers give advice that isn't very helpful – advice like "Use proper alignment" or "Use a logical color palette." But how do you know what proper alignment is, or what logical colors are? By understanding how human beings perceive and process visual information!

Science-based design provides a fresh, simplified approach that leverages what you already know to be true, but have never noticed before, to create a solid foundation for mastering design. It turns out that all design guidelines are based on how humans see, interpret, and respond to visual stimuli. Science-based design teaches you to understand these processes so you can make effective design decisions in any situation. It empowers you to understand what works, what doesn't, and why.

This mini tutorial provides an introductory glimpse into the InfoDev approach to design basics, with a focus on the Design Elements.

 

Science-Based Design

Design Basics Simplified: The Three Design Elements


This mini slide show provides an introductory glimpse into the InfoDev approach to Design Basics, with a focus on the Design Elements.

(Scroll down to view full-size slides.)

Science-Based Design – Design Basics Simplified: The Three Design Elements

During the Sensation phase of perception, light enters the eye through the cornea, the pupil, and the lens.

The lens inverts the light…

…and focuses it on the retina, which is the area at the back of the eye that contains photoreceptor cells…

…called rods and cones.

Rods facilitate vision in low-light conditions and are associated with peripheral vision.

Cones facilitate vision in normal light conditions and are associated with the perception of color. There are three main types of cones cells, each of which responds to either red, green, or blue light.

Cones also facilitate the perception of detail and contrast, which, in turn, allows us to perceive different features like shadows and edges.

Researchers have identified hundreds of specific features and attributes...

...which we perceive and process through various neurophysical pathways.

These features and attributes fall into just three categories: shape, color, and position.

Shape, color, and position are the "preattentive" elements in perception because we perceive and process them instinctively and automatically.

They are also the building blocks of the traditional design elements.

Texture, for example, is a complex effect created with a combination of the three basic elements.

And these three basic elements are also the building blocks of content, including overall layout and design, individual content elements...

...and even text!

 

Conclusion

Where Do You Go From Here?


When you understand that the three elements of design are shape, color, and position, you can begin to learn how to work with these elements to direct your user's attention, minimize cognitive stress, and convey information that is easy to find, read, understand, use, and remember. The next step is to learn about the various attributes of each of the elements and the one guiding design principle you can use to make sure the elements are combined effectively.

 

References

  1. Goldstein, E. Bruce. 2010. Sensation and Perception, 8th Edition. Eighth. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
  2. Jennings, Sam. n.d. “Layman’s Layout: Spreads, Fonts and Design Inspiration.” Accessed June 13, 2016. https://laymanslayout.wordpress.com/.
  3. Johnson, Jeff. 2014. Designing with the Mind in Mind: Simple Guide to Understanding User Interface Design Guidelines. 2nd ed. Waltham, MA: Elsevier.
  4. Ware, Colin. 2011. Visual Thinking for Design. Amsterdam: Elsevier Morgan Kaufmann.
  5. Ware, Colin. 2012. Information Visualization: Perception for Design. 3 edition. Waltham, MA: Morgan Kaufmann. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/224285723_Information_Visualization_Perception_for_Design_Second_Edition.
  6. Wolfe, Jeremy M., and Todd S. Horowitz. 2004. “What Attributes Guide the Deployment of Visual Attention and How Do They Do It?” Nature Reviews. Neuroscience 5 (6): 495–501. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrn1411.

 

A Tiny Tina Tutorial on Science-Based Design

Design Basics Simplified: The Three Design Elements


This slide show provides an introductory glimpse into the InfoDev approach to Design Basics, with a focus on the Design Elements.

Science-Based Design | Design Basics

1

 

> >

Design Basics | Perception | Sensation | Light

2

During the Sensation phase of perception, light enters the eye through the cornea, the pupil, and the lens.

< >

Design Basics | Perception | Sensation | Lens

3

The lens inverts the light…

< >

Design Basics | Perception | Sensation | Retina

4

…and focuses it on the retina, which is the area at the back of the eye that contains photoreceptor cells…

< >

Design Basics | Perception | Sensation | Photorecptors

5

…called rods and cones.

< >

Design Basics | Perception | Sensation | Rods

6

Rods facilitate vision in low-light conditions and are associated with peripheral vision.

< >

Design Basics | Perception | Sensation | Cones | Color

7

Cones facilitate vision in normal light conditions and are associated with the perception of color. There are three main types of cones cells, each of which responds to either red, green, or blue light.

< >

Design Basics | Perception | Sensation | Cones | Detail and Contrast

8

Cones also facilitate the perception of detail and contrast, which, in turn, allows us to perceive different features like shadows and edges.

< >

Design Basics | Perception | Sensation | Features and Attributes

9

Researchers have identified hundreds of specific features and attributes...

< >

Design Basics | Perception | Sensation | Neurophysical Pathways

10

...which we perceive and process through various neurophysical pathways.

< >

Design Basics | Perception | Sensation | Shape, Color, and Position

11

These features and attributes fall into just three categories: shape, color, and position.

< >

Design Basics | Perception | Sensation | Preattentive Elements

12

Shape, color, and position are the "preattentive" elements in perception because we perceive and process them instinctively and automatically.

< >

Design Basics | Perception | Sensation | Traditional Design Elements

13

They are also the building blocks of the traditional design elements.

< >

Design Basics | Perception | Sensation | Traditional Design Elements | Texture

14

Texture, for example, is a complex effect created with a combination of the three basic elements.

< >

Design Basics | Perception | Sensation | Content Elements

15

And these three basic elements are also the building blocks of content, including overall layout and design, individual content elements...

< >

Design Basics | Perception | Sensation | Content Elements | Text

16

...and even text!

< >

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Citation: Kister, Tina M. 2020. Design Basics Simplified: The Three Design Elements. In A Tiny Tina Tutorial on Science-Based Design. Nanatoo Communications, LLC. Accessed . https://www.nanatoo.com/information-development-wp.


 
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