Design makes a difference

If you visit this website often (which, based on my stats, you almost definitely don’t) you might see that I switch the design around occasionally. I’m constantly fiddling with design and font use, trying to chase that holy grail : something that’s nicely designed. I’m the same for my worksheets and presentations. I’m constantly trying to make things in formats that look nice. I don’t think I’ve achieved it yet. I also think it’s really important. There’s something elegant to good design. An uncluttered clarity. A beautiful zen.

Whilst I haven’t managed it, there’s a lot of people producing lovely stuff (often in very different ways), and I wanted to highlight a few of them, talk about what makes their work nice.


The first person I want to talk about is TES user Dooranran. His stuff is lovely. He uses a lot of themes (particularly superheroes and football) . I’m wary of using a theme. Often I find as many pupils put off by the theme as are engaged by it, but every Dooranran activity I’ve used has been very successful. Especially this Euro 2016 maths activity. I’d say the reason behind this maybe to do with the efforts that Dooranran puts into combining his themes and his mathematical content. They often gel in a really nice way. The maths content of his work is often very challenging, too.

The other person I want to talk about is Don Steward. Again! I’m always talking about Don Steward. So I should. He’s ace! He’s also odd. He’s a fan of unicase, which means that all of work is lowercase. I’m sure this violates some schools’ literacy policy, but it does look nice. I’ve never noticed how capital letters are rubbish before. He’s also a big fan of white space. Have a look at the sheet below.


It’s clean, it’s neat, it’s tidy. I think it can be tempting to cram too much on a sheet and overwhelm students. The other thing you notice about Don’s work is that he uses minimal instructions. I think this is a very underrated and important point of problem solving. Figuring out the problem is part of the problem. Look at this.


I like this. The white space, the presentation. This isn’t a problem to be done quickly and moved on from. It’s a problem to be savoured and worked on.

I really need to work on my presentation. If you want to get involved in chat, what programs do you use? Are we too stuck to PowerPoint and Word when better tools could do a better job? I vaguely want to try InDesign but I feel it’s like taking a hammer to the problem. Am I being too picky? Is bad design perfectly OK. I’ve seen some horrendously designed presentations on TES with great reviews. I content ultimately king?