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Chunking is a design concept based on proximity.  A good designer uses proximity to show the relationships of design components. Two items that are close (like a heading and the paragraph of text under it) should be related, and two that are far away (a title and the footer) are not related (or less related).  Any easy was to say this is “chunk”. Chunk your information by applying proximity and putting related items close and non related items further away. Chunking organizes your page, shows the relationship of items, improves users’ processing time, and aids in navigation and page use.

Chunking normally utilizes white space; reducing white space between related items and adding white space between unrelated. One common chunking problem I see is headings and paragraphs of text. Many people put their heading equally spaced between the paragraph of text before and the paragraph of text after. However the heading is more closely related to the paragraph of text after it (as this paragraph is in the heading’s section) than the paragraph before it. To resolve this, simply put more white space before the heading than after. Here is an example (the text is from Screen Space 9: Design 101b (Some Basic Vocabulary)):

Good chunking:

Also, since so many of us are used to print design, white space has taken on something of an expensive feel. In print, space costs money, and often designers would try to cram as much as they can in. Consequently space in a design has come to mean class and expense. Some of the most stunning and elegant pages have a lot of white space. Check out Tiffany’s website and you’ll see what I mean. So, fight the urge to fill your web, blog, or new media designs with stuff and instead incorporate lots of white space. It will only make your design stronger.

Term Two: Chunking

Now on to vocab term two: chunking. Chunking is a concept that works closely with white space. In fact, you use white space to chunk. Although the term might sound like something people might do when they had too much beer, chunking is a way to show the relationships of elements in your design. Chunking is simply creating chunks of content in your design. These chunks need to be created based on the relationships of the elements of your designs. Items that are closely related should be chunked together—placed closely to each other.  Those that are not related should be separated from each other by more white space. The end result is a design that has several chunked elements and clear relationships between the page content due to this chunking.

Poor Chunking:

Also, since so many of us are used to print design, white space has taken on something of an expensive feel. In print, space costs money, and often designers would try to cram as much as they can in. Consequently space in a design has come to mean class and expense. Some of the most stunning and elegant pages have a lot of white space. Check out Tiffany’s website and you’ll see what I mean. So, fight the urge to fill your web, blog, or new media designs with stuff and instead incorporate lots of white space. It will only make your design stronger.

Term Two: Chunking

Now on to vocab term two: chunking. Chunking is a concept that works closely with white space. In fact, you use white space to chunk. Although the term might sound like something people might do when they had too much beer, chunking is a way to show the relationships of elements in your design. Chunking is simply creating chunks of content in your design. These chunks need to be created based on the relationships of the elements of your designs. Items that are closely related should be chunked together—placed closely to each other. Those that are not related should be separated from each other by more white space. The end result is a design that has several chunked elements and clear relationships between the page content due to this chunking.

From/Reference: Screen Space 9: Design 101b (Some Basic Vocabulary)

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