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Due to a desire to rebuild rather rusty visual design skills, I’ve been looking around the web for articles and various how to’s in order to ensure any and all visual design I tackle going forward is up to date best practice. Most of this is review that I feel like I live and breathe everyday but it’s always good to get a reminder. In this search I have found the following articles/sites:

Web Pages that Suck
This site teaches through bad examples of what not to do.

Dieter Rams: Ten Principles of Good Design
Dieter goes over the top ten principles for good design, which are as follows:
Good Design is Innovative
Good Design makes a Product Useful
Good Design is Aesthetic
Good Design makes a Product Understandable
Good Design is Unobtrusive
Good Design is Honest
Good Design is Long-Lasting (Admittedly this kind of makes me laugh since I work on the web.)
Good Design is Thorough, Down to the Last Detail
Good Design is Environmentally-Friendly
Good Design is as Little Design as Possible

The Lost Principles of Design
A quick read with pictures to help you to understand the principles being talked about.

Design elements and principles
There’s always Wikipedia. Basic elements and principles of design.

9 Essential Principles for Good Web Design
Written with disclaimers that it’s only the opinions of the author but then supported by lots of links to other good articles, this article covers 9 essentials principles such as precedence (Guiding the eye through the use of color, contrast, position, size and design elements. Most UX designers will do this with the architecture of a site but the visual designer could use the before mentioned items to help guide the eye.), spacing (line spacing, padding, white space…), navigation (Where can you go and where are you now?), design to build (Can it actually be done? What happens when a screen resizes? Are you doing anything that is technically difficult? Could small changes be made to greatly simplify how you build it? For large sites, particularly, can you simplify things?), typography (font choices, sizes, spacing, line length, color, and paragraphing), usability (adhering to standards, thinking about what the user wants to do, and user tasks), alignment (utilizing a grid can greatly help ensure alignment and cleaner design), clarity (or sharpness), & consistency.

10 Principles Of Effective Web Design
Smashing Magazine writes about 10 principles for effective design, most notably, focus on a good user experience. The overview of the principles are as follows:
1. Don’t make users think
2. Don’t squander users’ patience
3. Manage to focus users’ attention
4. Strive for feature exposure
5. Make use of effective writing
6. Strive for simplicity
7. Don’t be afraid of the white space
8. Communicate effectively with a “visible language”
9. Conventions are our friends
10. Test early, test often

The Principles of Beautiful Typography
Long but great article on typography for the web.