Simple and Stylish

Aesthetics is not a branch of science. That is, if you define science as a study that includes exact measurements and theories, aesthetics most probably won’t fit the bill, because the needs of people (and their desires) differ. It’s more like pschology – a pseudo-science, one that attempts to categorize the reactions of a broad percentage of people so that they can be weeded out into normal and sub-normal. But like many other such tricky knowledge, it’s very important to how the world works.

Nobody buys a car that looks like a box on wheels. You’ve got to have curves, and just the right amount of appeal. Nobody buys a bike that’s entirely silent. It’s got to have a drone, and the more distinctive a rumble, the better. It’s very difficult to estimate where aesthetics end and marketing begins in many cases, because both are sciences that aim to please. Aesthetics does it in the name of art, marketing does it in the name of money. When you pool both in, a good idea becomes a workable one, one that appeals to a lot of people.

For design, aesthetics is often called upon more, rather than marketing. One of the basic rules of design with respect to publishing is that humans scan a block of text; rarely do they read, especially in environments like the web where time is of essence and the bushels of chaff are many. For a designer to become effective however, he must know which areas of text to highlight and which to use simply as page-fill. A rule of the thumb to follow is that when a document is more than 60% page-fill, it’s useless. So succintly, the point I’m trying to elaborate is: be brief. And expanding it to the context of the entire design scope, be simple.

Simple doesn’t imply plain. People who’ve stared at Nakshatra [2] collections will know what I mean. It is the special designer who can bring out the beauty in simplicity. Gaudiness often serves only to point out the flaws in the design; a minimalistic layout which uses the needs of the design as a guide to creating web pages that breathe well and think easy will be much, much more effective. In other words, it should be the content that decides the wrapping, not the reverse.

My first web page was an exercise in futitlity. Vysnu in its current incarnation is in some ways, much better, but there is oh, so much more that I can do. It’s still too heavy on the eye, and the elements do clash every so often. I can’t promise a redesign any time soon, but when I do it, I want it to be much better.

Oh, and analogous to the great coding principle that I live by (and what Vivek taught me) “Keep it Simple and Stupid” is “Keep it Simple and Stylish” when it comes to design. At least, that’s how my philosophy is wired. So KISS and make up, and lets be on our way.

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