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Function Over Form

In modern design, form is always seen to follow function. So goes for web design, especially for Web 2.0. The functional elements form the core of modern websites, the styling merely being applied after the foundation has been laid. But often, it isn't quite as simple. Moreso with the continuing usage of browsers that do not conform to web standards. Still, we don't choose our circumstances, and we have to design to this varied assortment of browsers and hope they display our pages consistently.

Of course, this makes it difficult for all but the simplest of styles to be applied consistently to our functional elements. If we go beyond the deliberately simple aesthetic of Web 2.0, we find that we need to rely on crutches like JavaScript to correct for cross-browser variances. Not only is this a bit hackish, but with more people using script blockers we run the risk of our pages looking like an amateurish mess.

So we rely on good old HTML. Wrap everything in divs, apply backgrounds to the wrappers, and lay the unstyled functional elements on top. The funny thing is, it is still, in a way, function over form.

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Very useful: How to make a pure-#CSS drop-down menu: Best design practices for drop-down menus:

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Farmville's success dissected: For future reference of all game developers. Via reddit

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Minimalist Design

Minimalism is beautiful, but also one of the hardest looks to achieve. Designers find it difficult, as they have to make the website look good using only the barest minimum of elements. Often, the site would not look complete without putting a widget here, or another widget there. We have to approach the design problem from a different viewpoint, 'taking out' instead of 'adding to'. But take out too much and you not only lose functionality, you make the site look naked. And not in a good way.

It takes a lot of iterations, a lot of effort, to find the perfect balance. Successful minimalist design should look neither cluttered nor bare.

Of course, the most important part in simplifying design is figuring out which elements you can live without. Get rid of unnecessary icons, social media, lists, sections, and navigation. Use as little texture, color and graphics as possible. Make liberal use of whitespace. And don't forget to use alignment, balance and contrast to your advantage.

A post I came across showcases a list of successful minimalist designs, with insights on why those designs work.

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