C.R.A.P. Design

C.R.A.P. Design

  
Design has a bit of art, but it also has a little bit of science. If, like me, you are impaired in the former, you can always use the C.R.A.P rule of thumb to check if your not breaking the design golden rules of the later.

Contrast
Elements that aren’t the same should be very different so they stand out, making them “slightly different” confuses the user into seeing a relation that doesn’t exist. Strong contrast between page elements allows the user’s eye to flow from one to another down the page instead of creating a sea of similarity that’s boring and not communicative. This applies to colors and font sizes, for instance.

Repetition
Repeat styles down the page for a cohesive feel — if you style related elements the same way in one area, continue that trend for other areas for consistency.

Alignment
Everything on the page needs to be visually connected to something else, nothing should be out of place or distinct from all other design elements.

Proximity
Proximity creates related meaning: elements that are related should be grouped together, whereas separate design elements should have enough space in between to communicate they are different.

In projects, to be safe and not have so much work, you should use the style guide (that is currently being revamped) and save your creativity to solve customer problems ;). But having this and the K.I.S.S acronyms in mind might help you in some decisions.

Some references with visual examples:
http://edweb.sdsu.edu/courses/EDTEC470/graphics/carp/index.htm
http://www.thinkvitamin.com/features/design/how-crap-is-your-site-design

Books:
http://www.amazon.com/Don-Make-Think-Approach-Usability/dp/0789723107
http://www.amazon.com/Non-Designers-Design-Book-Robin-Williams/dp/1566091594

Cheers,
Tiago Simões