Universal Principles of Design

Universal Principles of Design by William Lidwell, Kritina Holden, Jill Butler

I finished this in a mere two months, reading several of its one hundred design principles each evening before drifting off to sleep. Each lefthand page describes a principle or idea; the corresponding righthand page gives an illustration. The illustrations are clean and attractive. Ironically, the text on the left is a size too small for my eye, especially since it's printed in light gray.

My general take on knowledge is that you might as well have never learned what you've completely forgotten. Likewise, bringing something back into consciousness after it had disappeared is as valuable as learning it the first time. So I enjoyed the book, even though I'd internalized most of its content before. Some of the history and examples were new to me, enough to keep me plowing through to the last page. And it is pleasing to riff through a set of design rules just to make sure they're at your beck and call.

What does it cover? Such things as affordances, archetypes, baby-face bias, chunking, cognitive dissonance, consistency, convergence, entry point, face-ism ratio,the fibonacci sequence, and the figure-ground relationship, Fitt's Law, and the golden ratio.

Face-ism? If all you see is a person's face, you judge them to be more thoughful and intellectual than if you see their body as well. Which of these two look more brainy?

Feminists, please note: When college students are asked to draw pictures of males and females, they draw men with prominent, detailed faces and women with full bodies and minimally detailed faces.

Figure-ground is what's going on when you see the vase...or the faces...and back.

The Golden Ratio is an amazing number (1.61803398874989484820458634...). Objects conforming to these proportions appear beautiful to the human eye. It sneaks in unexpectedly in many realms.

Posted by Jay Cross at January 12, 2004 12:16 AM | TrackBack

Since you clearly like to read and comment on books, I recommend Emotional Design, Don Norman.

Posted by: Lisa Neal at January 14, 2004 07:13 AM

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