A brief list of need-to-know terms to make your life a little easier


Balance is the distribution of the visual weight of objects, colors, texture, and space. If the design was a scale, these elements should be balanced to make a design feel stable. In symmetrical balance, the elements used on one side of the design are similar to those on the other side; in asymmetrical balance, the sides are different but still look balanced, In radial balance, the elements are arranged around a central point and may be similar.

Our history has been shaped by the shape of the letters we write

A collage artwork of letters and other illustrations
Lance Letscher

As written language changed the course of human history, the evolution of printing revolutionized the spread of information. The simple fact that the Latin alphabet could be printed using a small number of discrete, repetitive symbols helped popularize moveable type, handing Europe a crucial advantage at the beginning of the Renaissance. The printing press kicked off the scientific revolution that fast-tracked us to the current digital age.

In the year 1448, in Mainz, Germany, a goldsmith named Johannes Gutenberg was experimenting with a lead alloy and a handheld mold. His aim was to speed up the process of putting ink…

Should we use placeholder text, and if so, when might it be appropriate?

A man sits and writes a at a typewriter, the typed paper overflows
Jeffrey Fisher

Lorem ipsum, the placeholder text, has been around since the 15th century and functioned as a staple for designers since Letraset popularized the dummy text in the 1960s. While it serves its purpose to indicate where text might exist in an unobtrusive manner, it is not without its problems.

What makes this dummy text so appealing as a placeholder is also what makes it weak. It’s inability to communicate solves one problem and creates another. …

Illustration of two people high-fiving over completed whiteboard brainstorming
Delaney Gibbons

The dreaded Whiteboard Challenge in the interview process can seem a daunting task to undertake. Being asked to design a solution for an unexplored problem in 30 minuets to an hour is a nearly impossible ask to accomplish if your’e trying to find the perfect solution. Luckily for us, interviewers want to see your thought process, organization and time management skills. They aren’t looking for a final perfectly completed project.

How do you prepare in advance?

Brainstorm about different kinds of users before the interview starts. Research one or two different groups of people that products are often geared towards…

The Myth of the Aha! Moment and How to Structure an Aha! Routine

Michelle Thompson

The elusive Aha! moment, so desperately desired in the design process, is a misconception. Triggering the epiphany you’ve been searching for requires a lot of back-work. These sudden bursts of insight are proceeded by many hours of incremental unconscious processing followed by structured brainstorming. Inspiration is not something stumbled upon but worked for and continuously built upon.

Lightbulbs hovering over our heads, patiently waiting to be illuminated by a force outside of our understanding, don’t exist. There is no magic about insight. “Studies show that insight is not a sudden flash that comes from nowhere, but in fact is the…

Abstract line drawing of cellist playing music
Jonathan Calugi

It is no mystery that many of the words used to describe the foundations of music, especially that of classical music — rhythm, form, texture, etc. share their vocabulary with visual design. Music and design, while appealing to two different senses, sound and sight, are not so different from each other. Georgetown University Medical Center neuroscientists have found that the human brain learns to make sense of these stimuli, sight and sound, in the same manner, and according to Dr. Petra Vetter, from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway “… the visual cortex is sensitive to what we hear…

Good design requires empathy, not just a friendly nature with users.

Garcia Lam

This past year, the year of the “zoom boom”, I was on a project which involved participants across four different continents. Undoubtedly, this led to more than one communication misses. This kind of in-the-moment globalization is the new normal and will be a continuing trend in how business is conducted. While potentially posing a few issues in the exchange of information, it can be easily rectified if prepared for in advance. Being “kind” is simply not enough, you must understand your user’s feelings and thoughts.

1. Limit Your Expectations

You can’t expect your users to have the same background as you which means there…

Susannah Bayliss

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