CRAP Design: Part 1 - Make documents and pages look good

This would not be some thing about vulgar design in spite of the title. On the other hand this would be the first post in a series that deals with some of the basic principles that can be applied while designing just about any written material - be it on the web or offline documents, or printed documents.

Before I continue, I would give the due credit to Robin Williams. It was her book, The Non-designer's Design Book that got me into the designing of quite a few things. It has helped me create better documents and web pages both in my job and elsewhere. It has helped me study other great works of design by others and see these underlying principles involved. Also, it is noteworthy that I picked up the above mnemonic in the title - CRAP - from that book where Robin hints at it quite subtly.

The mnemonic stands for Contrast, Repetition, Alignment and Proximity. We will be going through each of them in a bit of in depth manner, though in the reverse order, in this series I have dubbed as CRAP Design Series.

These design principles are applied on elements to convey meaning and make it aesthetically pleasing. Elements are the things in a document that make up the whole. Paragraphs, headings, bullets, borders are all different elements of a document. Another way of identifying an element is by squinting your eyes - de-focusing - and then viewing the document. The blurry block and groups you see are elements that make up the document. These elements when subjected to the following design principles make a document well designed:

  • Proximity - Group only related items together
  • Alignment - No element should be placed arbitrarily on the page
  • Repetition - Repeat some aspect of the design through out the piece
  • Contrast - It two elements are not the same, then make them different

It must be noted that design principles cannot be applied standalone. All of the above owe to making the design aesthetically pleasing.

We will look into each of these design principles in the posts that would follow.

The next post in the series would be about Proximity principle.

Update: This blog post is a part of series.

  1. CRAP Design: Part 1 - Make documents and pages look good
  2. CRAP Design: Part 2 - Proximity
  3. CRAP Design: Part 3 - Alignment
  4. CRAP Design: Part 4 - Repetition
  5. CRAP Design: Part 5 - Contrast
  6. CRAP Design: Part 6 - Finale


this is the exact name for this!! it justifies the way the stupid text doesnt listen!


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