Taking the Guitar Solo Philosophy to Your Designs

Ever have those moments where you want to really show off your design skills? To impress people with the cool effects you can pull off? Unfortunately, you usually can’t. Because that would make the design you’re working on self-indulgent. Your showoff-iness would come at the expense of your design’s usability and effectiveness.

However, there is a way to let loose with your design skills and keep your design intact: add guitar solos to your design.


In this article, you’ll find out:

  • • What a guitar solo is (to understand it’s relation to design)
  • • What a design guitar solo is and why you should add them
  • • How to add a guitar solo to your design

By the end of this article, you’ll know why you should add guitar solos to your designs.

A Guitar Solo Explained


A guitar solo is a section of a tune where the guitarist can let loose. It’s usually 8 or 16 bars in length (for non-music people, a bar is a single “and-a-1-2-3-4″ countdown or a “boom-dsh-boom-boom-dsh” beat). So it’s a fairly contained section in an otherwise 3-5 minute or longer tune.

Yet within that section, the guitarist can really impress the listener with his or her guitar chops. Whether that’s shredding, pulling of harmonics acrobatics, playing with effects, or simply performing a very intricate and expressive melody, it’s where the guitarist can show off his or her skills. For the rest of the tune, the guitarist plays a consistent melody or riff in each section.

This way, the tune remains listenable and structured while still letting the musician show off his or her ability. If the guitarist was soloing throughout the entire time, the tune would be a mess – no repetition, order, or logical following of the music.

What a Design Guitar Solo Is and Why You Should Add Them


A design guitar solo is what it sounds like: the web and visual design equivalent to a guitarist’s solo in a tune.

In your otherwise usable and restrained design, there is a section or series of small sections where you can let loose with your design skills. Basically, where you show off your effects ability and technical prowess. But since it’s contained within a small space and is unobtrusive to the rest of the design, the usability is kept intact. This way, you can show off your skills and impress people while still having a non-self-congratulatory design.

Why would you want to add a guitar solo to your design? To show off your visual chops, which your restrained and usability-focused design won’t. A bit self-indulgent, yes, but it’s human nature to want to showcase your ability. It doesn’t matter if it’s your guitar playing ability, visual artistry, physical strength or acrobatic feats: it’s fun to show off in this way, and the audience or user can enjoy it as long as it doesn’t become too much.

So as long as your guitar solo doesn’t get in the way with the rest of the design, why not add a design guitar solo?

Plus, a guitar solo will make your design more unique. Notice how an iconic guitarist’s solo will add a stamp of uniqueness to a tune (like Eddie Van Halen in the band, um, Van Halen). The same goes for your web and visual designs.

You no doubt have some fairly special or unique style of effects that you enjoy creating – no matter how subtle it is. By adding it as a design guitar solo, you’ll be able to showcase it and add some uniqueness to your next design.

How to Add a Guitar Solo to Your Design


Find a small, contained space in your design and let loose with your skills. Show off what you’re capable of visual art-wise. Have fun and go beyond your usual techniques you use to make usable web and visual designs. Feel free to be a bit self-indulgent. Just make sure that the space won’t be obtrusive to the rest of the design.

In other words:

  • Good: the sides of a box, the edges of a header, or a corner in some empty space
  • Not good: fonts, amidst headlines and other important content, background, logo

A popular specific example is a banner and header. You can really go wild with the flourishes. And there will still be plenty of space for a logo, text, subtitle, a short message, and any other element that you or your client wants to include.

Take this example of a series of banners by Vectorportal:


The flashiness is within the banners themselves. Yet, if you put text in the center, the title will still read clearly. And if the rest of the website doesn’t have the flashiness of the header, then your entire design will remain usable while still showing off your technical prowess.

You see this in many websites. The header is often the flashiest, most visually impressive element of the site. But the rest of the site’s design is fairly restrained and to the point. A perfect example of having a guitar solo in the design.

Why You Should Add guitar solos to Your Designs


Now that you know what a guitar solo is in relation to design, go ahead and try adding your own guitar solo to your next design. Find a small, contained space in your design and then let loose with your skills within it.

By keeping your showcase of skills to a specific place that’s unobtrusive to the rest of your design, you’ll be able to show off and impress people with your visual design ability. All the while keeping the usability and clarity of your design intact. And that’s why you should add guitar solos to your designs.

How about you: are there any other ways you’ve been able to show off while still keeping the usability and effectiveness of your designs intact? Share your favorite tricks in the comments section below.

Author: (579 Posts)

Paul Andrew is the editor and founder of Speckyboy Design Magazine.