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The Rules of Genius #15: Work to an appropriate structure

Every design has its own order. The job of the genius is to discover it. The best approach is to start with a logical structure, then deviate from it according to your needs, your skills, and the particular demands of your project.

If you’re designing your own house, for example, the combination of site, neighborhood, budget, space requirements, and your personal taste may suggest a three-level, Modernist cliff-hugger to take advantage of the views and adapt to its special engineering needs. Or it may lead you to a farmhouse-like compound that blends into its setting and accommodate a range of specific uses. Every set of circumstances points to a different underlying order.

If you’re developing a website, parameters may include your skillset, your audience, their experience level, the navigational possibilities, your brand’s personality, and the functional purpose of the website may point to magazine-style format with rich, emotion-laden photography. Or it may suggest an all-typography format with no-nonsense navigation and clear copywriting. Avoid cookie-cutter approaches. Every design should align with its unique purpose.

This doesn’t mean that every project should be produced lavishly, or that it should break the mold on general principle, but simply that each project has a hidden structure that, if discovered, can bring out its full potential. When purpose and structure find the right fit, one plus one equals three.

Next week: Express related elements in a similar manner.
The principle of grouping brings clarity to any experience.

The Rules of Genius is now a book with a bonus section called “How can I matter?” that includes 10 essential rules.  Buy here.

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