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Glossary » Graphic Design


For webpages, the area that appears in the first screenful when a person loads a page; the part of a web page that can be seen without scrolling.

This is important real estate since users are more likely to…

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aesthetic integrity

a principle that advocates that a design should be visually appealing and should follow common principles of visual design: consistency, a clear identity, a clear visual hierarchy, good alignment, contrast, and proportions, etc.

What constitutes an aesthetically successful design may…

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algorithm animation

algorithms are the formal procedures for performing some computational task, such as the procedure to sort a set of numbers. An algorithm animation is a graphical display of process over time (auditory cues are also quite common). Algorithm animations are…

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anchor point

(graphics) the point on an object that remains stationary while an object is resized or rotated, for instance, while resizing a window or rotating an image within a drawing program.

Similarly, the point at which a selection begins. For instance,…

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drawing graphics with smooth blends of colors along edges to avoid sudden shifts of color between pixels and give a smoother appearance. When a line is drawn on a computer screen, the common way to draw it in the early…

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beveled appearance

the bevel is the bright or dark edge used on raised or lowered objects in a user interface to give them a 3-dimensional appearance. This pseudo-3d style is quite popular: by giving buttons a raised appearance, they appear to be…

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brand identity

the aspect of a design that establishes a unique look and feel distinct from competing products but consistent within the product and its product line. The identity has these advantages:

it maintains a consistency that helps a user orient and

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(graphic design) a small graphic element used to label items in a list. Typically a dot, circle, diamond, or square. For example:

a disc-shaped bullet a circular bullet a square bullet Read more »

busy pattern

a special way of displaying an icon, button, or other widget to indicate that it is temporarily unavailable because it is being used. Typically the busy pattern is indicated by showing an icon in a light gray dotted pattern. An…

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cascading stylesheets

CSS; a method for specifying the look of a web page independent of the markup of the structure of that page.

The original intent in HTML markup was to specify the structure of a page and allow the individual user…

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chiseled appearance

The appearance that lines have been etched into a surface, by using adjacent dark and light lines casting the correct shadow (usually assuming a top-left light source). This style should be avoided for text because of its poor legibility. In…

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a visual style for user interfaces that presents widgets as beveled 3-dimensional objects, usually with a gray, metallic appearance. In this style, buttons are presented as raised rectangles, text-entry fields and other content areas usually appear in beveled insets, and…

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a phenomenon of visual perception: different wavelengths of light focus at slightly different depths in the eye. Thus, it is difficult to focus on an image that combines two colors because each color is fuzzy when the other color is…

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cyan-magenta-yellow-black; a color model that specifies any given color as the combination of 4 base colors, commonly used in printers. While the RGB model is based on combining projected colors (an additive system), the CMYK model is based on using…

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color blindness

an inability to distinguish certain color combinations. About 8% of males and 0.5% of females are colorblind in some fashion, so it is common enough to be a highly-significant factor in design. Red-green color blindness is most common, followed by…

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(graphic design) a rapidly-drawn but high-quality sketch intended for presentation purposes. Traditionally comps are created as quick color sketches done in marker, often used for client presentations especially in advertising and architecture. A comp is usually intended to be a…

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cone tree

a way of displaying hierarchical data (such as org charts or directory structures) in 3 dimensions. Branches from any node are spread out in a cone. This allows a denser layout than traditional 2-dimensional diagrams, though nodes may be obscured.…

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contrast-repetition-alignment-proximity; a mnemonic for remembering 4 important principles of visual layout. These are closely related to the gestalt principles of similarity, good continuation, and proximity.

The term comes from Robin Williams’ “The Non-Designer’s Design Book”.

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dataflow diagram

a diagram similar to a circuit diagram used in workflow analysis, programming, and process management. It has a set of nodes and lines between the nodes indicating how information flows from one node to another.

For instance, in workflow analysis,…

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decision tree

a visual representation of a decision problem intended to help people make better decisions. Each node represents either a choice by the decision-maker or a probabilistic outcome. A decision tree can be used to determine the probability and net…

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depth perception

the experience of perceiving a third dimension of depth into a computer screen. For instance, windows add a certain depth by having shadows, and buttons indicate their dimensionality by having beveled edges.

Many different graphical qualities can act as depth…

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(graphic design) a small typographic element that can be placed among text, typically to draw attention to the text it marks (such as a bullet item). Many font families are available which consist solely of dingbats. Dingbats are typically…

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disk tree

a representation of hierarchical information with the primary node at the center and each successive descendant falling on concentric rings spanning out from the center. On each ring, a node is allocated space according to how many leaf nodes fall…

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dome tree

like a disk tree, a representation of hierarchical information with the primary node at the center and each successive descendant falling on concentric rings spanning out from the center along a 3-dimensional dome. The dome allows relationships to be indicated…

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drag texture

a texture that appears on draggable interface components, such as sliders, scrollbars, resize boxes, and window title bars. As a metaphor for real-world grippable objects, the texture is usually a sandpaper grid of dots or a set of parallel lines.…

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