elements of design part. i

For the first part of this series and before we start designing, sketching, and coding I thought I would share with you a little something I learned in school and how to apply it to your design: There is nothing more important for you to be able to get the most out of your blog, shop, book, magazine, business than to know and understand the basic elements of design. Don't get intimidated, i'll take you step by step, break it down for you and offer practical tips that you can apply!

Without getting too technical on you, you must know that the most important elements (but not the only ones) of composition and aesthetics are rhythm, balance, color, texture, line, shape, space and value. But what are those you ask? Lets see..

As defined by the dictionary, balance means 'an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady' and that is precisely how you should put it to work on your blog design. Think of it as your blog needs two legs to be able to stand up without a problem. It's nice when you have a post column full of pretty pictures, awesome graphics or good writing but theres a limit for everything. Don't overdo it. If you're going to post several times a week and will have a lot of content how about changing the amount of posts per page to a smaller number? Or perhaps categorize your posts and divide them in segments, you can place your categories neatly organised on your sidebar for easy access. This also applies when its the other way around. It always bugs me when I see a blog where the sidebar goes on and on forever and is actually longer than the main column. The attention is supposed to be drawn to your content not all the gadgets you have around it!

As for rhythm it is pretty simple. Be cohesive, post pictures that are all the same size. Try to edit them all the same or at least similar. You don't need a fancy photo editing software like photoshop to do a good job, there's always GIMP which is free for both mac and pc or online resources like picmonkey that you can use for free as well. Find what works for you and rock it! Have all of your sidebar content be the same size and if possible to keep the same aesthetics. Try to use similar fonts and colors in your posts. Your blog will flow easily and will be reader friendly.

One of the most important things to pay attention to design wise is color as it immediately creates a mood that wil be perceived by your readers as soon as they land on your page. A good rule to apply here is 'the rule of three'. Think about three colors that you like and represent your personality and use them throughout your design. If you're not sure if those colors that you picked go well together you can find great online resources that will help you put a color palette together like Colourlovers, Design-Seeds and Color Scheme Designer. I use these all the time when I'm looking for a little inspiration and they never fail to deliver. Learn a little bit more about color theory and how to use a color wheel with the help of this amazing resource!

There's another thing that you should know and I'm going to come out and say it: white is your best friend! I LOVE me some white. Seriously, love is an understatement. White is awesome, white is clean, fresh and pleasing to the eye. A white background gives you space, makes your content pop and won't ever outshine whatever you have going on there. Always choose white as your base and build up from there.

Texture is the one element with which you can have a little bit of fun. The dictionary defines texture as: 'the feel, appearance or consistency of a surface or a substance'.

How awesome is it that you can give a little bit of depth to your design with a simple texture? It's amazing what a sutil change can do. They come in all sizes, shapes and from every material that you can possibly imagine. From paper and denim to dirt and tiles you can spend so much time looking around! And the good thing? they are almost always free for you to use. God bless the internet!

I usually use them to give a little body and richness to a design. You can see I use a texture on my Etsy shop as a backdrop for all of my listings and from time to time I use them on my designs to stop them from looking plain and boring. Textures add detail to an image making it look more elaborate which is always good. You can use them to make your header, sidebar titles or blog buttons and if you don't want to do a plain white background, you can always use a texture instead but please remember less is more.

Phew! We are done with the first part of 'Elements of Design' and I hope you're feeling inspired and ready to face the challenge of developing a proper image for you and your blog. Feel free to share with friends, take notes, bookmark and come back to this post and change things up a little bit so it fits you, your style and what you want to accomplish.

If you have any questions so far please leave a comment or email me at foxandarrow{at}gmail.com and I'll get back to you!