SpoolCast: Visual Design Essentials for Non-Designers with Dan Rubin

Sean Carmichael

February 3rd, 2011

Duration: 32m | 17 MB
Recorded: May, 2010
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Visual design is often considered an artistic realm. Many times people shy away from design or limit their involvement despite being completely capable of creating a great design. Learning the basics of design can help dispel the notion that it is only for the artistic. According to Dan Rubin, “there’s a big separation between being artistic and being creative.”

Dan is a highly accomplished user interface designer and usability consultant. He conducted a UIE Virtual Seminar called Visual Design Essentials for Non-Designers. So many questions were generated that we couldn’t address them all during the session. Today we’re bringing you the follow up podcast in which Dan tackles those remaining questions.

Here’s an excerpt from the podcast.

“…Design is not just the visuals and the aesthetic aspect of making something look pretty or attractive, while there are some established rules and just psychological principles of what makes something attractive, to most people it is a very subjective thing. You might like a different color palette than I do in a design. Or to one person a lot of visual flourishes might be appealing while to someone else it’s distracting.

But those aren’t the things we’re really talking about. Those are more of the artistic layer of visual design. Picture it in a couple of different layers. Design in its core is about the visual aspects that support the functionality in a given thing. If we’re talking about physical products in the real world or virtual products such as web apps and services the design is what communicates the functionality to the user.

When we talk about interaction design, that’s a more detailed side beyond just the communication, the actual interaction, the give and take. What people will click on and how that behaves.

When we’re working at a lower level, below the behavior, what we actually need to do is provide a foundation for that functionality or for the content. A framework of sorts that allows the user to easily interact with and understand whatever is being communicated. So at its core level, the principles that we were talking about in the virtual seminar are more about how to make something easily communicate its intention.

When we’re talking primarily about good typographical rules and creating a balanced visual hierarchy, those things are not subjective. Those just are. You can guarantee that people will react a certain way to these things. And we’re not actually looking for an emotional connection where we might be with color and the more artistic layer if you will.

That’s the nice thing about design. At its core level it’s not really subjective. It’s just a matter of good balanced decision making and not cluttering things, not overcrowding. A lot of the time people mistake good, basic core design principles for just common sense. Because once you see them applied properly they just do make sense. You can’t imagine them being done any other way…”

To hear more, tune in to the podcast as Dan also answers these questions:

  • Do you have any strong opinions on fixed width content areas?
  • What tools can non-designers employ to add visual depth?
  • When your design is dominated by one specific color, how do you suggest incorporating new color relationships?
  • When do you decide to use serif fonts versus sans-serif fonts?
  • What are your thoughts on discussing some of the elements of the design with your clients, for example color?

As always, we welcome your opinions. Please share your questions and comments in our comments section.

3 Responses to “SpoolCast: Visual Design Essentials for Non-Designers with Dan Rubin”

  1. …dots in a line… Says:

    [...] “When we’re talking primarily about good typographical rules and creating a balanced visual hierarchy, those things are not subjective. Those just are. You can guarantee that people will react a certain way to these things. And we’re not actually looking for an emotional connection where we might be with color and the more artistic layer if you will. That’s the nice thing about design. At its core level it’s not really subjective. It’s just a matter of good balanced decision making and not cluttering things, not overcrowding.” — Dan Rubin [...]

  2. Dear Designer, You Aren’t That Special – Design around the world Says:

    [...] “When we’re talking primarily about good typographical rules and creating a balanced visual hierarchy, those things are not subjective. Those just are. You can guarantee that people will react a certain way to these things. And we’re not actually looking for an emotional connection where we might be with color and the more artistic layer if you will. That’s the nice thing about design. At its core level it’s not really subjective. It’s just a matter of good balanced decision making and not cluttering things, not overcrowding.” — Dan Rubin [...]

  3. Adam Churchill - Elementi di Visual design per non progettisti - ideawebitalia Says:

    [...] Qualche tempo fa, ho registrato un podcast con il designer Dan Rubin, era il seguito del suo seminario virtuale Visual Design Essentials for Non-Designers. Durante il seminario, Dan espresse il seguente concetto: è un mito, che il design sia soltanto il regno dei creativi. Continuò spiegando che apprendere semplicemente i principi di base dell’interfaccia visuale, conferisce a chiunque la confidenza necessaria per creare dei grandi design. La sua presentazione fece pensare molto il nostro pubblico e ci posero così tante domande eccellenti durante il seminario, che non avemmo il tempo di rispondere a tutte. Questo articolo prende in esame due delle domande che abbiamo coperto. Potete ascoltare l’intera intervista on-line. [...]

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