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Once you can name something, you are conscious of it.
You have power over it.
You own it.
You are in control.
The four basic principles
Avoid elements on the page that are merely similar.
If the elements are not the same, then make them very different.
Contrast is often the most important visual attraction on a page—it’s what makes a reader look at the page in the first place.
Repeat visual elements of the design throughout the piece.
You can repeat:
colors, shapes, textures, spatial relationships, line thicknesses, fonts, sizes, graphic concepts, etc.
This develops the organization and strengthens the unity.
Nothing should be placed on the page arbitrarily. Every element should have some visual connection with another element on the page. This creates a clean, sophisticated, fresh look.
Items relating to each other should be grouped close together. When several items are in close proximity to each other, they become one visual unit. This helps organize information, reduces clutter, and gives the reader a clear structure.
Physical closeness implies a relationship.
When pieces of a design are scattered all over, the page appears unorganized and the information may not be instantly accessible to the reader.
Group related items together,
move them physically close to each other so the related items are seen as one cohesive group.
Items or groups of information that are not related to each other should not be in close proximity (nearness) to the other elements, which gives the reader an instant visual clue to the organization and content of the page.
Take a look at this typical business card layout, below. How many separate elements do you see in that small space?
And what if I confuse the issue even further:
When several items are in close proximity to each other, they become one visual unit.
The proximity, or the closeness, implies a relationship.
By grouping similar elements into one unit, several things instantly happen:
The page becomes more organized.
You understand where to begin reading the message.
You know when you are finished.
The “white space” automatically becomes more organized as well.
If I group related elements together, into closer proximity—see what happens:
How many separate elements are in this piece?
Does any item of information seem related to any other, judging from the placement?
When you create a flyer, a brochure, a newsletter, or whatever, you already know which pieces of information are logically connected, you know which information should be emphasized and what can be de-emphasized. Express that information graphically by grouping it.
The idea of proximity does not mean that everything is closer together; it means elements that are intellectually connected, those that have some sort of communication relationship, should also be visually connected.
It becomes your responsibility to make sure the reader gets the correct information.
Group the items that have relationships. If there are areas on the page where the organization is not perfectly clear, see if items are in proximity that shouldn’t be. Use the simple design feature of space to make the page not only more organized, but nicer to look at.
If I move the headlines closer to their related paragraphs of text, several things happen:
The organization is clearer.
The white space is not trapped within elements.
There appears to be more room on the page.
Proximity is really just a matter of being a little more conscious, of doing what you do naturally, but pushing the concept a little further. Once you become aware of the importance of the relationships between lines of type, you will start noticing its effect. Once you start noticing the effect, you own it, you have power over it, you are in control.
The simple principle of proximity can make web pages easier to navigate by collecting information into logical groups.
Summary of proximity
When several items are in close proximity to each other, they become one visual unit rather than several separate units.
Items relating to each other should be grouped together.
You should be able to follow a logical progression through the piece, from a definite beginning to a definite end.
The basic purpose of proximity is to organize. Other principles come into play as well, but simply grouping related elements together into closer proximity automatically creates organization.
If the information is organized, it is more likely to be read and more likely to be remembered. As a by-product of organizing the communication, you also create more appealing white space (designers’ favorite thing).
How to get it
Squint your eyes slightly and count the number of visual elements on the page by counting the number of times your eye stops. If there are more than three to five items on the page (of course it depends on the piece), see which of the separate elements can be grouped together into closer proximity to become one visual unit.
What to avoid
Don’t stick things in the corners or in the middle just because the space is empty.
Avoid too many separate elements on a page.
Avoid leaving equal amounts of white space between elements unless each group is part of a subset.
Avoid even a split second of confusion over whether a headline, subhead, caption, graphic, etc., belongs with its related material. Create a relationship among elements with close proximity.
Don’t create relationships with elements that don’t belong together! If they are not related, move them apart from each other.
Items relating to each other should be grouped close together. What principle is this?
a. contrast b. proximity c. alignment
When several items are in close proximity to each other, they become ____________ rather than several separate units.
Is the following design a good one?
InDesign file on your computer
The basic purpose
This is the concept of proximity -- physical closeness implies a relationship
With that one simple concept, this card is now organized both intellectually and visually. And thus it communicates more clearly.
Obviously, this list needs some formatting to make it understandable.
Sometimes when grouping items into close proximity, you need to make some changes, such as in the size or weight or placement of text or graphics. Body copy (the main bulk of reading text) does not have to be 12 point! Information that is subsidiary to the main message, such as the volume number and year of a newsletter, can often be as small as 7 or 8 point.
The Joshua Tree Epiphany
COMM 4332- 01