GD1 Is Your Design CRAP?

Posted on November 4th, 2019

We have all been there before. Stared at the same design for so long we no longer know if its good or not.

CRAP is a simple acronym that can help you give your work a personal critique based on some of the fundamental principles of good design. The acronym stands for Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity. If you learn and master these principles it will help you to improve your designs so that they are well organized and communicate clearly. Although these are discussed separately, keep in mind they are really interconnected, rarely will you apply only one principle.

To make sure we are all on the same page of what these terms mean, let's briefly go over each of them.

The idea behind contrast is to avoid elements on the page that are merely similar. If the elements (type, color, size, line thickness, shape, space, etc.) are not the same, then make them very different. Contrast is often the most important visual attraction on a page.
Examples: Light colored type on a dark background, large bold type, warm (fire) colors surrounded by cool colors, a circle surrounded by squares.

Repeat visual elements of the design throughout the piece. You can repeat color, shape, texture, spatial relationships, line thicknesses, sizes, etc. This helps develop the organization and strengthens unity.

Refers to the placement of graphic elements on the page. Every element should have some visual connection with another element on the page. Nothing should be placed on the page arbitrarily.This creates a clean, sophisticated, fresh look. Graphics, blocks of text, or other graphic elements, can be aligned on the left, right, or centered.
Centered type generally doesn't look as pulled together and should usually be avoided.

Items relating to each other should be grouped close together. When several items are in close proximity to each other, they become one visual unit rather than several separate units. This helps organize information and reduces clutter.
Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, Proximity= CRAP These principles are particularily helpful if you use them consciously when you are creating graphic designs that use type to convey information. The FedEX webpage shown above uses all four principles effectively. Can you identify them?
Writing Assignment:

1) Write out the definitions of each principle. Write this by hand on lined paper. The definitions are listed above. 1pt.

2) Evaluate the Coachella poster below for the use of all four design principles by responding to the writing prompt below for each of the principles. Write a short but descriptive paragraph about each principle (4 Paragraphs total). Focus on the TYPE in your writing. Use a minimum of three sentences for each paragraph. 4pts. (Students who use CRAP in the layout of their evaluation will receive an extra point.) 

Writing Prompts - Focus on the text
CONTRAST- Describe where and how contrast is used in the text. What information is the most important? What did the designer do to make important items stand out?

REPETITION- Describe where and how repetition is used in this advertisement. Be sure to look at the type, colors, shapes, and lines.

ALIGNMENT-What sort of text alignment is being used? Left, right, center or justified? Where?

PROXIMITY- How and where is the principle of proximity used? Which items of information (text) are grouped together? Why?

Tips- Be sure to completely answer each question. You will be describing the use of each principle in the poster. Be specific and make sure that you understand each principle. Be sure to use their names in your descriptions. Focus on the type rather than the background image. Write clearly, using good punctuation and neat handwriting.

* I will add a point to your total if you organize this assignment using CRAP! 

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