September 21, 2004
Design is about elegant simplicity. Good design appeals to the user’s intuition: it makes sense. The reason that everyone likes the book is that it has become naturalized, a well designed package for our knowledge. However, the book is no longer an apt symbol for information in an age of networked computers. Information design must be elegant and quick. Knowledge design—composition—isn’t just about the words, but also how those words are presented; the medieval monks knew this with their prodigious illuminated manuscripts. Yet, unlike that medieval zeitgeist, techno-design is about access, not exclusion. It should be structured, but not so rigid as to not be aesthetic. Design should elicit emotion and feeling; it is never indifferent. Design speaks of functionality in its willingness to be used. Design is hands-on.
I guess the most important principles that influence my design of information, like this web site, are as follows:
- Simplicity—a page should never be too crowded with information, and if it is, it should not look that way
- Usability—the users’ needs should be paramount
- Repetition—design elements, like headers, navigation, and white space, should be repeated and used logically on every page
- Access—all information should be accessible within two mouse clicks