Designing documents of any nature is no easy feat. Executing visually stimulating works that contain compelling content requires practice and a few simple design principles. In essence, designing flawless documents requires C.R.A.P. principles. If you haven’t guessed it by now, C.R.A.P. is an acronym that stands for contrast, repetition, alignment and proximity.
Let’s explore these simple principles in depth and together better the designing process (not only for us, but also for the poor individuals that have to read the content we create). Let’s unpack this C.R.A.P.!
Contrast focuses on visual interest. Instead of every item on the page being the same, you can make elements unique from one another. Ultimately, this will make your document more dynamic, and it can help simplify the organizational structure of the contents as well. Some examples of utilizing contrast would be different fonts, colors, shapes and images on the same page. There is one hard and fast rule that accompanies this principle: BE BOLD!
There is nothing more distracting then when the elements of design are all over the place. Avoid this eyesore by lending some repetition to your document. In essence, repetition boils down to consistency. Now, this principle doesn’t have to contradict our contrast principle, they’re mutually exclusive. Make sure titles contain the same font and color, make sure your body text is consistent throughout your document, make sure your spacing stays consistent throughout the document, etc.
Put simply, alignment is all about visual unity. By utilizing alignment successfully, you will lend a great deal of organization to whatever document you are creating. It also makes reading a document a lot easier on the reader’s eyes. They don’t have to guess where they should search for information next. The clear roadmap you provide the document through the purposeful use of alignment will pave the way to capturing your audience. My stylistic preference is to always stick with either right or left alignment whenever possible (pick a side, and stick with it!).
Last, yet certainly not least, is proximity. This is perhaps the most important element within C.R.A.P. Proximity is all about grouping related items closely together in a way that is coherent for the reader. This could be contact information, detailed steps listed together, visual elements, etc. The clarity and organization of your document rely heavily on your appropriate usage of this principle. Used carelessly, audience members will grow confused at the point you’re trying to get across, and will likely give up.
Now if you’re still left challenged by the document designing process, have no fear! There are so many resources available on the internet. For example, take a look at Slideshare. This website allows users to post slideshows that they’ve created so that other users can take ideas and incorporate them into their own design. The possibilities are endless – have fun!