Aug 13, 2010 by Aaron Rubman
Recently Scott Stiefvater and I were discussing the principles behind the CMS driven model of website design that MB/I favors. In that conversation he mentioned the three levels of content and presentation (the core application, the modules, and the interface and display). This reminded me of the six elements of design presented in Scott McCloud’s visual textbook Understanding Comics.
From inception to presentation these layers are: the idea, the form, the idiom, the structure, the craft, and the surface. This week I’d like to look at the two innermost layers, idea and form.
The idea sits at the very core of the creative process. It is the reason why you want something created. This can be a product you want to sell, a problem you wish to solve, an insight you want to share, or any of a billion other things that demand communication or record. Spending the time to identify and understand your core idea will help you to stay on target as you are exposed to different choices and options that can help you express and share it.
In loose terms, the form of a design can be thought of as it’s medium. Since you are currently reading The Gold Mine, you’re probably considering a business website, but have you thought about how you want that website to be viewed? Designing a website for a desktop viewing is not the same as designing for a smartphone or an iPad. Each form has different strengths, limitations, properties, and peculiarities.
There are also complimentary forms that you can use to express different aspects of your idea. Marissa, Natalya, and Wendy aren’t just good web designers, they also make killer business cards and mailers, Zac is a musician and community organizer, Scott produces videos, and I like to develop and test new games when the time permits.
By the time you start looking for a web developer you should already have given some thought to the form of and idea behind your new design.
We’ll look at the idiom and structure, and how to tell if your web developer is on the top of their game.