Secret to Good Forms

There are those who are bored to tears by the thought of designing a form and those who love the fussy challenge of creating a good, clear, usable document. Forms are seriously underrated in the world of graphic design.
Of the four basic design principles (contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity), the secret to a good-looking form is alignment. Lack of alignment is the single biggest failure that makes a form appear unclear to the user. The other principles are also very important, as in any design, particularly contrast to help direct the user through the form, proximity to keep groups of related pieces of information together, and repetition to tie it all together. But alignment is the key.
The top example uses interesting typefaces and calls out the major features in bold for clarity in communication and visual contrast and repetition, but it doesn’t look as clean and clear as it could.
In the lower example, elements are aligned, which naturally presents a cleaner look. Cleaner (usually) communicates better. Also, the spacing was adjusted so that the elements that belong together (like those two lines of “suggested donations”) are closer together, and the separate elements have a wee bit of extra space between them (following the principle of proximity).

http://www.ParagonPress.net – #1 in Shreveport, LA for printing, direct mail, graphic design, marketing – 318.868.3351

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