Design is all about decisions and rules. How many you create, how many you break is really up to you, your personal taste, style and vision. The one parameter that can heavily change the attitude and the nature of any design work is time. If the deadline is short – less work can be made and less attention given to the details. In many designs the details matter alot.
I like rules. I like order. I don’t usually have enough time to mess with kerning, spacing, margins. grid calculations and alignment. When I do I really enjoy it and love the results.
I do not remember who did I pick this from. but the main idea is to have a “unit”—say, 5 pixels. Then, after I place everything in it’s place loosely, and when this design is approved, I try to apply this unit to wherever it seems fit. I’m getting really obsessed with distances between elements, so as long as I have time I will measure, move, and enforce order in design.
Ofcourse, this results is a blocky design with a little monotonic like look, but that’s the way I like it.