Q & A on CARP:
1: What is CARP:
CARP is the four design principles of Contrast, Alignment, Repetition and Proximity. Simply put, without CARP principles, it doesn’t matter how important the message is you are trying to get across – viewers won’t give it their time or attention unless it is presented clearly, attractively and impactfully! Lack of CARP can mean distracting viewers with jarring inconsistencies, muddying your message, or losing credibility so much that viewers just won’t even bother.
2: What is the value of the CARP principles — each of them separately, and all four working in concert — in your design work?
Used effectively all together, the CARP principles guarantee design which has impact, clarity, cohesion, and polish. Contrast – whether in size, shape, color, or other design elements – is super important in calling out key text or imagery to a viewer at a glance. Alignment helps the user make sense of different parts of the information being provided, such as titles vs. details, and adds a professional look to a final product. Repetition helps diverse elements still be “branded” as part of the same whole. And Proximity also clarifies to the viewer which pieces of information belong together. All four play vital roles in helping a project look stunning and impart information quickly and effectively.
3: Which of the four CARP principles do you believe is most important to consider when designing visual materials for webinars? Why?
I think contrast is the most important CARP principle, especially regarding color. Within just fractions of seconds, a contrasting design element – especially a colorful one – will catch the attention of users and lead them to the key message, plus establish interest and promote credibility (through a professional, polished look). Conversely, poor contrast can be one of the worst design mistakes, since it can make text completely illegible if it does not stand out against its background.
- Example of effective CARP in action: http://www.96elephants.org/ has it all. Great contrast in the pop of red color with a complimentary beige color repeated in titles, buttons and other calls-to-action against the stark and somber black-and-white backgrounds of deeply meaningful elephant-conservation-related imagery. Great use of alignment with plenty of “white space.” Repetition and cohesion across all pages of the website. Perfect proximity of like content, separated from other concepts/functional areas.
- Example of ineffective use of CARP: Worst website in the current century. http://www.rudgwicksteamshow.co.uk/ Terrible alignment, no cohesion, too many jarringly contrasting colors, too many sizes and shapes on images, too many different fonts, not enough empty space. Distracting animations. Weird random imagery. Just bad.