Over the years, I’ve picked up certain rules that I use as design proverbs. At Engagio, I put them on the wall to remind me and to decorate my area.
I just added my 11th and 12th design principle.
11. Vertical Space is Expensive.
This refers to the fact that most interfaces are shaped like a rectangle and not a square. This means that you have room to put controls on the left and right, but not as much on the top and bottom. If you use a MacBook Air your resolution is 1,440 x 900. 900 is barely enough for a modern interface. Therefore, as a design principle, spend your pixels wisely. Use the left/right before top/bottom. Vertical space should be guarded.
I’ve spoken about this for years. It’s crucial to be different than the competition. Al Gore is my favorite example of failure to differentiate. In the 2000 election, he dressed the same as Bush, talked the same as Bush and was perceived as “the same”. In reality, the world would be a very different place if Al Gore won the presidency. The Supreme Court would look very different. Anyway, the point is, you HAVE to stand out. If the competition does things a certain way, go in another direction. You must be noteworthy. Don’t try to look “classic” or “timeless”. That will lead to bland designs that don’t capture people’s imaginations. Differentiate or die.
I am sure I will collect more design principles over the coming years. I strongly suggest that you make your own collection. Print them out, put them on the walls. Be creative with them. They will become your friends and trusted advisers in your design journey.