dummerAugust - web and visual design

Web design is a lot more than creating a website. We need to know why something works or doesn't. We have to understand the audience, the way people think, what they value and where they see meaning. Web design requires the ability to see things from above, to consider many factors and leave intuition and experience to determine how well they work together. Relying on a single way to do everything and doing it as usual exposes the client to severe risks. Explaining the reasons behind our decisions is important part of every conversation. But web design cannot be approached with a lack of technical experience as there are many programming languages and frameworks that need to speak together in order to achieve the desired result.

Visual design is not part of web design. It is not only about creating beautiful interface elements, ensuring that they are consistent and positioning them in a pixel-perfect way. It considers everything visual: from the design of a presentation to image compositing, infographics and data plotting, geometric permutations, photography, visual referencing of real objects to explain meaning and finally to animations and visual effects, many of which can be described by mathematical formulations. Visual design is a very broad area and it is impossible to be good at everything. But all these areas exhibit some common principles, which can be applied during web design. When used properly, visual design can help to validate some of the decisions during the design process.

Selected personal projects:

A search engine for scientific publications

Some of the biggest companies we know of have innovated faster than others thanks to scientific advances that they managed to integrate into their products. Simple ideas are often combined with some discovery or insight to make them scalable and successful. Just knowing how to structure, write and maintain code is not enough to build such products. Since science is so important, it made sense to start working on this project as soon as possible. The goal was to make the discovery of related content as easy as possible, not to rank items based on human perception, which can be misleading. This collection contains a small subset of all available titles that were chosen manually while discarding most duplicates. This led to very fast response times and the ability to add as many titles as needed without sacrificing performance. The insights from the papers can be used to improve any future product.

A minimum spanning tree of a road network

Networks are very common and the minimum spanning tree is a recurring problem to solve. It seemed a good idea to have an automated way to generate it from spatial data. Graphs are worth studying in detail, but in the context of a real application. Graph theory in itself can be overwhelming and not always useful. Graphs have enabled social networks, which underlines their importance.

A dictionary of techniques

This list is based on personal discovery and it is an attempt to unite common thoughts as pieces, which can help during design and other activities. The techniques were described in a general way as to be useful in various contexts. The content isn't perfect and always improving, but the updates are very simple.

A color picker (unreleased)

There was no easy way to show 16 million colors and make them easy to pick. But rendering ≈0.2 million on full screen was possible albeit very slow on initial load. This was achieved through the use of a deprecated property, where other approaches failed. This project was a response to the color pickers that let you pick a single pixel and then show you an approximate color in an indirect way, which is rarely the one we wanted to start with. A useful project that could help to estimate the feasibility of other ones in the future.

A book on web and visual design

Written in 2013, but still useful in many ways. Describes web design from multiple perspectives (in Bulgarian) without reprinting content from the site. It explains some principles and illustrates the extent to which they were followed or not on a small selection of websites.

More projects and thoughts can be found in the blog section. This helps to understand how much they matter to you, before they deserve the chance to be introduced in a more visible way. If you appreciate such kind of work and have a project that would benefit from experience in the areas of web or visual design, feel free to connect.