This chapter of Design Essentials focuses on Attention to Detail and the important role it plays in the design process.
Attention to detail makes for a better experience in any industry. A candy on your pillow at the hotel or a mint with your check at a restaurant makes for a more enjoyable traveling experience. Detectives and law officials know that it is in the details of a crime scene that they find success. Engineers and architects know that the stability of the most enormous structure depends on the integrity of its smallest element.
Why then, should it be any surprise that the integrity and success of your design depends heavily on the attention you give to the details therein? Paying close attention to detail simply makes your design more professional.
In defense of simplicity: Detail vs. Clutter
Now, in promotion of minimalistic and simplistic design, there is a huge difference between attention to detail in design and simply cluttering a design with unnecessary details. Paying attention to the detail of a design means you consciously examine and polish every element of your design–whether simple or complicated. It means you only include what is necessary, and you make necessary elements beautiful. Many designers confuse creativity with clutter (hence the reason why we had to write “How to reduce clutter in web design“). Even cluttered designs can be created without attention to detail. Simplicity is a great way to focus on what is important in your design and then really make it shine.
Beauty is in the details
Many times designers wonder what they can do to make their designs look more professional. Probably 9 times out of the 10 that I get asked “What would make this look better?”, my answer involves a reference to the details. This one of the primary differences between beginning designers and experienced ones. Beginning designers hastily finish a project when it looks good while experienced designers aren’t finished until it looks great.
A few tips
Lastly, I’d like to suggest a few tips (please add yours to the list) that will help any designer learn to more effectively pay attention to the small details of his design.
- Thoroughly analyze designs you think are impressive. Make a list of what makes them so great. Study them, talk to the designer, and learn all you can about the process, the motivation, and more.
- Zoom. A one word solution that will help you identify flaws or mediocre design lapses. After you have finished your design, zoom in–and I mean close. Look at all the spacing, colors, shapes, vector graphics, etc. Get really close and inspect all the details.
- Leave it alone, then return to it. After you have designed something that you think is wonderful, leave it for a few days. Allow time in your scheduling to do this and you are sure to catch any small details you overlooked the first time.
- Get feedback from others. Many times we cannot see something because we simply have been looking at it for a long time. If we bring someone else on the scene and ask for feedback, most likely they will spot errors or have suggestions that we otherwise would have overlooked.
What do you think?
Is attention to detail really that important or should I step down from my soapbox? Please share with us any thoughts or experiences you might have regarding this essential part of design: attention to detail.