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Gestalt: 5 Principles that Demystify Great Design 

gestalt and great design

Have you ever looked at a beautiful logo and wondered, “Dang! What kind of wizard made this? This is a mysterious art form I’ll never fully understand!” The designers here at Randall Branding definitely have. It’s easy to be spellbound by a flawlessly executed visual idea.

Good design can feel magical, but there’s a lot of at math and science at work. From grids to the golden rectangle, rational thinking plays an important role the in design of brochures and bottles alike.

A great example is gestalt, which is a branch of psychology. One of gestalt’s central tenants is that our brains crave order, and naturally try to organize parts into a global whole. Designers can take advantage of this — and become wizards — by incorporating the following principles into their work.

Foreground/Background

Our brains naturally separate foreground elements from background ones. Making the foreground/background relationship obvious through contrast in color and form can help highlight important objects. Alternatively, making the foreground/background relationship ambiguous can create dynamic compositions. When an object wavers between foreground and background, our brains are entranced and delighted.

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Similarity

We perceive elements that share color, size, shape, or texture as belonging together. Deliberate repetition of similar elements creates a visual rhythm that pleases us in the same way that musical rhythm does. In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, similarity in formatting allows us to process and understand content more easily.

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Proximity

Our brains perceive things that are close together as being related. Positioning several elements close together creates a whole, or a group. Groups draw our focus by creating a unit that has more visual presence than that of each individual element on it’s own. Reducing the distance between related content also increases usability and comprehension.

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Continuity

We have the tendency to continue lines and edges beyond where they technically end. The edges of shapes extend into the negative space and create pathways that our eyes use to effortlessly navigate from one area  to another. Good design uses shape and alignment to create fluid pathways between individual parts.

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Closure

Our brains can perceive an object as being complete, even when parts of it are missing or obscured. When elements are arranged in a certain way, the brain extends lines and creates imaginary contours. Suggesting the whole, as opposed to dsplaying it explicitly, can create a dynamic visual puzzle that brain revels in solving.

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See? It turns out good designers are a little less like Harry Potter and a little more like Spock. If want to geek out with us about Gestalt, or if you’d like our designers to work some non-magical magic for you, you can contact us here. If you want to know more about us, you can jump over here. If you’d like to see what we do, you can always jump over there.

Until next time!

 

Design is the Details: Creating an Inspiring, Ownable Brand

Design is in the Details

The writer Annie Dillard once remarked, “How we spend our days is of course how we live our lives.”

Her observation exposes our tendency to downplay and dismiss the tiny everyday moments. But as the saying goes, god (or the other guy) is in the details. The success of any venture often depends on the small stuff. The designer Charles Eames was known for saying, “the details are not the details. They make the design.”

These sentiments all get at an underlying truth of branding: details matter. Sure, if you get a majority of your brand’s look correct, you do a lot to encourage your audience and create a sense of legitimacy. But it’s those seemingly insignificant touches that make your brand inspiring and leave a lasting impression in someone’s mind. Here are a few examples of sweating the small stuff and coming out on top as a result.

Apple is famous for it’s attention to detail. It turns out that the rounded corners on their devices are crafted with what’s called curvature continuity. Whereas other rounded corners create an abrupt highlight, this technique creates a smooth, natural one.

The smallest change in type can bring energy, wit, poise, and dignity to a design. Pairing typefaces is a fine art, and in this primer, Hoefler & Co demonstrate the skill and sensitivity necessary to do it right.

For our friends over at Simple Thread, we considered everything from custom photography to how the buttons were formatted. The result is a look that reflects their mixture of expertise and whimsy, and is totally ownable in their competitive space. 

So the next time you think that shade of red is close enough, or that the difference between Helvetica and Arial is splitting hairs, remember, those details are the ultimate separators! Getting them right is what elevates and distinguishes your brand.

As always, If you want to know more about us, you can jump over here. If you’d like to see what we do, you can jump over there.

 

The Benefit of the Hard Refresh

You may have noticed that when you return to a website you’ve visited before, it loads a bit speedier than it did on your first visit.  This little boost is thanks to the power of caching. Caching makes commonly used websites load faster and use less bandwidth, but there are a few instances in which it can all lead to some pretty screwy behavior.  What is caching anyways?  Well, to answer that question, first you must understand what happens when you visit a website in your browser.

When you visit a URL, your browser sends a request to the server hosting that page and asks it to send you all the files associated with the URL you are visiting.  For modern websites, this frequently includes a lot of different files.  These files include (but aren’t limited to) the page itself, any images displayed on the page, at least one (and sometimes many) stylesheet and any number of javascript files.  As your browser downloads all these files from the server, some of them are saved onto an area of your computer’s hard drive called a “cache.”  The next time you visit that website, your computer will first look in its cache for a recent copy of the files the server is trying to send it.  If it finds some, it will load those directly from the hard drive, which is way faster than downloading a fresh copy of them from the server.

Unfortunately, when a site is being developed, the contents of these files are changing rapidly, and the cached files may no longer be the most up to date versions.  This can lead to pages displaying as outdated versions, or sometimes looking broken if old, cached files are loaded alongside other files fresh from the server.  To solve this problem, you can do a “hard refresh” (sometimes called a “force reload”).  A hard refresh forces the browser to load all fresh copies of the files from a specific page regardless of what it has in its cache.  If you’re viewing a webpage that is under development and things don’t look right, try a hard refresh first!

The steps to do a hard refresh vary depending on the browser and operating system you are using, but below are the keyboard shortcuts for the most common ones.

Chrome:

Windows: Hold down Ctrl and press F5

Mac: Hold down ⌘ Cmd and ⇧ Shift key and then press R

Mozilla Firefox:

Windows: Hold down Ctrl and ⇧ Shift and then press R

Mac: Hold down ⌘ Cmd and ⇧ Shift and then press R

Internet Explorer:

Hold the Ctrl key and press the F5 key

Safari:

To empty the cache, you need to turn on the Develop menu. Got to Safari > Preferences…, click the Advanced tab, and check Show Develop menu in menu bar.

Hold down alt and ⌘ Cmd, and then press E to empty the cache.

Hold the ⌘ Cmd key, and press R to refresh the page.

Before you go, download our PDF document outlining how to hard refresh!