Oct 02 2009

Recycle, Reduce, Re-use for Web Design

I remember a catchy little jingle in the 90’s that went a little something like this… “Recycle, Reduce, Re-use… and close the loop”.  It was targeted towards making the earth a better place to live, and since the web is where many people spend their time on this beautiful planet, I see no reason why it can’t make websites a better place as well.


  • Some sites require quite a few icons, and luckily there are plenty of designers nice enough to give out theirs.  Just because they are giving you their icons doesn’t mean you have to use them as is.  Have some fun with them and make them your own.
  • Your first designs aren’t always loved by the client.  When you take another shot at it, don’t save over your first version.  It’s not uncommon to revisit those ideas and designs to use on a different project in an altered form.
  • Any given web 2.0 button is usually somewhat similar to the next.  There’s nothing wrong with that, so feel free to drag over those layer styles from a previous psd and just tweak it a bit.



  • Your photoshop files can get pretty hefty if you keep duplicating the same document and start adding on designs for the next page.  Once a design has been approved, make a template psd file that has elements that you know won’t change and flatten them to spare yourself from having to deal with too many layers and large file sizes.
  • Complex websites can have quite a few options and content on them.  Do your best to minimize those to guide the user or highlight those that are the most important.


    Sliders can hold large amounts of content in a small space. Don't limit them to slideshows, they can explain a complex process as well.

    Content or options don't have to be displayed up front.  Scripps provides rich features in it's menu.

    Content or options don't have to be displayed up front. Scripps provides rich features in it's menu.

  • “Less is more”, yes it’s cliché, but it’s true.  List items don’t always need gradients behind them and images don’t always need a drop shadow.  Whitespace and simplicity are a great way to improve readability.


  • There are plenty of elements in web design that you can re-use.  While it’s fun and sometimes appropriate to do original work for the following list, it isn’t always necessary.  Here are some things worth re-using:
  • There’s no need to re-invent the wheel.  There’s a reason search results, navigation menus, and blogs display their information in a similar way across industries.  Re-use conventions that have been developed in the web.  Users are familiar with how to read these, so make it easier on them and yourself.

There’s a balance involved when following these ideas.  Try not to let any of them stifle your creativity.  Have fun with your designs, but save time and energy when you can.

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1 Response

  1. Oct 03 2009
    Chuck Longanecker

    Great post Rick – there is a great balance in creativity with simplicity.