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Six Pieces of a Layout Puzzle, Part 2

Six Pieces of a Layout Puzzle, Part 2
Layout is more than making items fit; it is about finding a balance between elements that draws the reader in, leads them through the narrative, and ultimately, evokes a positive response to your message.

Please refer to Part 1 for the previous three elements of images, color, and fonts. We continue reviewing important elements involved in design layout.

Graphics

The graphics referred to here are not so much the supporting items integral to content such as graphs, info graphics, illustrations, etc., because those would fall under the category of images. What is referred to here are the secondary graphics such as icons, printer dingbats, decorative lines, and so on. These are items often used to break up text or draw attention to a section.

In web design especially, the use of icons provides a strong visual representation for the content that follows. Much like road signs that use shape, color, and simple illustrations to communicate at a glance, so do icons and other secondary graphics. Knowing when to use these as navigational or focus aids is important to help the reader understand their intent throughout the content.

Placement

Placement of all elements must be considered when determining how to fit them into the allotted space. Needless to say, print design has a pre-defined amount of limited space, whereas web design tends to be far more flexible. But having unlimited space does not mean that one should fill it up with elements; nor does having limited space mean that one should be sparse with elements; and vice-versa. Knowing when to fill and when to pare down comes from experience in how best to represent the content in the given medium.

Deciding how large an image should be, where headlines should go, whether text should be a on a one- or two-column grid, where these items are placed in relation to one another are just a few of many choices a designer must make in order to build a visually pleasing layout. A successful design will guide the reader in such a way that they are not aware they are being lead. As Joe Sparano said, "Good design is obvious. Great design is transparent."

Space

Along with element placement, space consideration is an equally important aspect of the layout process. Apple® is the leader in using space to create an feel of elegance and style. By using large, open spaces, the image or text that is placed within that space immediately becomes the focus. Other elements all play second fiddle to the focal point, serving to expand the message, but never to detract from it.

Space considerations affect everything from the space in between letters, between words, between lines, between paragraphs, around blocks of texts, around headlines, around images… all areas where space exist should be carefully balanced with the elements themselves to provide the best possible reader experience.

Since the advent of the personal computer, every person who owns a word processing program can place images and text into a document and call it good. While that may work for some situations, it does not serve businesses well to use marketing materials in this manner, with little to no consideration given to the elements mentioned above.

Layout is more than making items fit; it is about finding a balance between elements that draws the reader in, leads them through the narrative, and ultimately, evokes a positive response to your message.

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