Levels of complexity in website design

Here’s my attempt to lay out the levels of complexity in website design. The idea is that you can choose to layer on as many levels as you want, or stop at any point.

  1. A single column of text, media, and hyperlinks in the browser default styles.
  2. Typographic treatment on the text (e.g. line height, text size, type hierarchy, etc.)
  3. Use of spacing to group related content and distance unrelated content.
  4. Containers around actions to help them stand out as button-like elements.
  5. More than one column at container and page level.
  6. Containers and dividers to group and separate content.
  7. Denotive colour (colours associated with interface concepts)
  8. Connotative colour (colours associated with cultural concepts)
  9. Centrepieces (noticeable visual elements to add interest/meaning).
  10. Sprinkles (minor visual elements to add interest/meaning).
  11. Richer visual style treatment on existing elements (e.g. fancier buttons).
  12. Necessary animation (for guiding attention and improving understanding).
  13. Unnecessary animation (for visual interest).