How to Use the Style Guide

I'm writing this while it is still somewhat fresh in my mind, in part to make a record of what I did and why I did it so I can try to be somewhat consistent with future entries. This post is about both how to navigate the style guide and how to actually make use of the information.

Below is a screenshot of the top portion of the first official entry in the Style Guide, a post called Copenhagen's First Skyscraper, 1960. It begins with a section called Just The Pix followed by a section called All The Deets.
On this post, there are two links under Just The Pix, one to a Bing Image Search for interior photos of the building and one to a Bing Image Search for exterior photos. I bolded the words interior and exterior and the label for the links is the exact search term I used.

I used Bing Image Search because you can link directly to the image results. This is not true on Google.

It's possible that I will sometimes put images directly on the page but a link to an Image Search keeps me out of hot water in terms of copyright. A link is always acceptable but things get more complicated when you want to embed content. I generally err on the side of only embedding stuff I am confident allows that, like YouTube videos which have a widget to help you embed things.

I want this to be an image-rich guide where you can look at images in the very first section (Just The Pix) and get something out of it even if you don't know much about color theory, design, etc. The section below that will be mostly written and I will try to keep it somewhat brief but also link to additional supporting sources for people interested in more of a deep dive and thorough understanding.

Where possible, I will try to supply one or more videos because those can be easy to digest. The Style Guide is intended to be something easy to use for people who aren't design professionals without watering anything down.

Below is the landing page with some red ovals to highlight sections I am talking about.
The long, narrow oval shows where a page menu often goes. I have left that out and the page menu is in the small oval in the sidebar. This helps keep the site clean-lined and helps it visually represent the clean, uncluttered aesthetic of Mid Century Modern.

I have decided against creating a page titled Style Guide with links as an index. That helps save me some headaches because maintaining a page like that in a living document that gets new posts on an on-going basis is a pain.

But I also think just using labels (the mid-sized oval in the sidebar) is a superior method for my purposes. I can give the same post more than one label and that helps index it in a way that is visually low clutter while making it easy to find posts that cover important topics that may not be readily obvious from the post title.

All pages that are pertinent to the Style Guide will be labeled Style Guide. I will also add labels for important topics found therein, like Color Scheme and Building Height, so you can find the information most pertinent to your interests and needs.

If you are a tenant, you are probably more interested in interior pics. If you are a city employee or real estate developer, you may be more interested in exterior pics.

I will try to provide source materials to help you readily understand the elements of Mid Century Modern, such as the kinds of materials, color schemes and thought processes that went into it. Knowing those elements is the best way to try to adapt the style to current reality.

I will also try to provide historical context and a comparison to current context. This should help people more readily grasp their own unstated assumptions and subconscious biases and think more clearly about why they should make certain design choices.

Good design is not just about looking good. It isn't even primarily about looking good.

Elegant design is often perceived as beautiful but that's very often more of a side effect of good design than a goal per se. First and foremost, good design serves a practical purpose that helps make the built environment work well and helps people understand it, navigate it and otherwise benefit from it.

I have come to believe that human standards of beauty are really a kind of shorthand for "That's a wonderful thing that works well!" However, it's a gamable shorthand because the eye can be fooled by cheap knockoffs and "prettiness" at times.

Any guidelines concerning aesthetics, like color choices, should not be viewed as competing with or in conflict with other practical matters or existing regulations. For example, you shouldn't see it as a problem that orange safety cones and blue mailboxes don't fit with your color scheme.

Orange, red and yellow get used a lot for safety features precisely because they are garish and hard to miss. It's a feature, not a bug, if they contrast starkly with the colors chosen to try to make things pretty.

Intended general format of Topical entries:
  • Just The Pix (h2 header)
  • Bing Image Search link(s) (in blockquote)
    • Will use the exact search term as the text
    • Will bold the words "exterior" and "interior"
  • Possibly other images in this section, where appropriate
  • All The Deets (h2 header)
  • Link to a basic article
  • A few paragraphs of me talking about the topic, with embedded links to additional supporting materials
  • One or more embedded videos
  • Labels
    • Always: Style Guide
    • Always: Topical or Meta
    • Sometimes other labels, like Color Scheme or Building Height
All main body entries will get labeled Topical. Pages like this one (that talk about the Style Guide) will be labeled Meta.

See also: Free Language Template for Adopting the Style Guide