What you should know about designing a digital interface


White space and limited typefaces are good choices




How can aspiring digital designers amp up their creativity?

On Thursday evening, Engineering and Wharton senior Adi Dahiya showed fellow students how to enhance their constructions of modern web and mobile interfaces. The event took place at First Round Capital and was a part of WiCS Tech Talk, which is hosted by Women in Computer Science.

“Good design starts with a mission.”

Find a purpose for your work and outline the jobs that users would “hire your product” to do. Print and digital media should inform or persuade. Visualization tools can help by allowing users make quick comparisons and decisions. For instance, presenting the ratings of upcoming fall courses as a graph is easier to digest than sifting through individual listings.

Enable users.

Interactive media creates a relationship with users. Facebook does it by enabling friends to intentionally connect with each other, and Flickr accomplishes it by enabling anyone to become a photographer.

Embed inside jokes.

Include audience-specific references in your design to clue in users on what your product is about. In the design of the PennApps web page , the title is followed by a blinking cursor — an object all hackers and programmers see too often.

Pick appropriate typefaces, and try to stick to 10.

As a beginning designer, try not to overdo with the offerings of Google Fonts in order to minimize “visual pollution.” Dahiya suggested searching “beautiful web types” on the Internet for successful combinations that have been used before.

1. Display fonts — including Serif, Sans Serif and Script — are curvy and sometimes illegible. Only use them for headers.

2. Geometric fonts — including Old Style, Transition, Modern and Helvetica — are historical in styling, with more calculated strokes. Feel free to use them for the bulk of your text.

3. The ideal typeface is one that is “rich in variations” — italicizing, underlining, coloring and bolding create distinctions of a single font. Take advantage of the variations to highlight your text, but only stick to one way.

Don’t be afraid of white space.

“Your goal should not be to fill up space,” Dahiya said. Blank areas on a page can strengthen its content, and can guide the eye to important sections.

“Steal like an artist.”

Find multiple role models to emulate and blend their styles, but make sure to give your inspirations credit. To improve designing skills and to “bridge the gap” of what you make now and what you want to make, take on a lot of creative digital design projects.

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