I get asked many times what package I use, and my answer is typically the same: anything I can get my hands on. The key to design is not the package, but the content. Unfortunately (or fortunately) there has never been a computer package that can properly encapsulate design ideas. The best tool of this is a pencil and paper. If you start with a package, you're never going to properly investigate your ideas, and find out which one works. It's really the same argument as reading a book against reading text from a computer screen. Books are one of the most portable devices ever created, and you can virtually move from any part of the content to any other part, in a matter of seconds.
I'm not a very good drawer, but here's an example of the sketches I have made for the CNDS page design:
The scan of the page can be quickly enhanced by selecting Adjust Color->Autolevels to give:
I think, for the book design, that the final one works best (the one where the book is standing up). Once the design has been selected, it can be enhanced and integrated into the final design. You can see that it would have been difficult to enhance the graphic, and try out ideas, using a computer package.
A clever trick is to add a little bit of colour to the scanned images of pencil sketches. This is achieved, in Photoshop, with Image->Adjust-Variations. The following shows the addition of green, blue and red. Which one do you prefer? Well it really all depends on the place that the graphic would be placed, but I personally prefer the green one.
So does it work when it is reduced in size? Well there's only one way to find out. Here are three different versions using the green version of the graphic (remember the graphic is still in a very rough form, but it'll allow us to try different layouts):
I think that the first one works best for the position of the graphic, but the second one works best for the position of the links. So the final design could look something like:
And for the module information.
If we merge the two:
So what have we achieved here? Well this article should have given you some
basic ideas on how you could draft your content on paper,
first, and then try out a few ideas, before you finalise your
design. A key in design, though, is to observe your content
over time, and see if your eye becomes tired of the design.
If so, don't use it. Over time you should learn the good and bad
tips, but there is no real definitive techniques that will work
for every type of presentation. In fact if you do not experiment
with your graphic elements you designs may start to look a little
too much everyone else's work, which might be fine if your trying
to sell soap powder, but not very good if you're trying to innovate