UIEtips: Rabbis, Tropes, and Visually Consistent Designs

Jared Spool

October 20th, 2010

Often, when we talk of finding inspiration for our visual design techniques, we turn to the discipline of fine arts. From the rich history of the arts, we can see many parallels between the artist’s work on the canvas and the designer’s work on the screen. Because much training in visual design often comes out of fine arts curriculums, there are rich resources for exploring these parallels.

What we don’t often discuss are the connections between visual design and creative writing. The tools and tricks of the creative writer are just as applicable to visual design as that of the graphic artist.

In this UIEtips, we explore some of the relationships between visual design and a particular type of creative writing: the joke. Jokes have a basic set of patterns and the best comedy writers know how to take advantage of them, just the way good designers take advantage of visual design patterns. We’ll look at how writers construct a joke and what we can learn from their process.

Read the article: Rabbis, Tropes, and Visually Consistent Designs.

Good color, grid, and typographic systems are powerful tools for creating great visual designs. In his full-day UI15 workshop, Visual Design Essentials for Non-Designers, Dan Rubin will share his tricks for creating and using these systems. If you’re charged with the visual design of your site, you don’t want to miss this workshop. Watch his preview to see what he’s covering in the workshop.

Where have you taken your visual design influences from? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Share them below.

One Response to “UIEtips: Rabbis, Tropes, and Visually Consistent Designs”

  1. David Rondeau Says:

    What I like most about this article is that it pushes designers to think about patterns as more than just “widgets”. Yes, it does talk a lot about color and typography, but you can expand the scope of the trope and expand the idea of pattern to also include structure and interaction methods. The places in the system, the organization of content and controls on a screen, and the ways we interact with them are also patterns that need to meet user’s expectations. If these patterns match how people are used to doing similar tasks (whether online or not), the interface is easier to use. If they don’t match, things become difficult.

    I think there are many interaction design tropes that are already well established; the problem is that we’re only tacitly aware of them and we don’t often recognize or acknowledge them. This is something I’ve been working on and thinking about for a while, so I’d be curious to know if others are explicitly using higher-level tropes or patterns.

    Thanks for the thought provoking content.

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