Let’s face it, we’ve all come across websites on the Internet that are less than appealing. With large, intrusive text, multitudes of bright colors competing with one another, and crammed information, it’s a wonder these sites accomplish anything at all. Today’s web surfers are quickly scared off by such websites, clicking away from them as fast as they arrived.
The good news is that there are just as many, if not more, sites that get it right. The graphic designers of these sites understand that websites aren’t about overloading the visitor with information in the form of text, images, and colors. They know that the eye naturally appeals to a more Zen-like appearance. They aren’t afraid of white, or blank space. In fact, they do their best to incorporate it into their designs. While they still integrate bright colors, the backgrounds are generally neutral and soothing, and the brighter colors are reserved for a limited number of attention-grabbing images and headlines.
A recent BBC article reported on new research that shows that the brain makes decisions in just a 20th of a second of viewing a webpage. It further stated that if people believe a website looks good, then this positive quality will spread to other areas, such as the website’s content. It concluded that since people like to be right, they will continue to use the website that made a good first impression, as this further confirms that their initial decision was a good one.
The most modern websites are leaning toward simple 1- and 2- column layouts around a central axis. Simplicity seems to be key here. The arrangement of these sites is very straightforward, and discourages the eye from wandering around. This more streamlined approach successfully keeps the visitor focused on the matter at hand, instead of bombarding them with several different messages scattered throughout different areas of the page.
The central orientation is a stray from the left-justified layouts common in recent years, and we’re learning that people don’t mind scrolling below the fold if there’s valuable information to be found there. Thus liquid layouts are slowly becoming a thing of the past.
Less Design for the Sake of It
We’re seeing that site visitors appreciate intricate design as long as there’s a good reason for it being there. For instance, how often have you chosen to “Skip Intro” when visiting a site with a Flash intro? While intricate Flash designs can be entertaining at times, most of us don’t have the time to waste while a Flash movie loads and then plays through. And we won’t even get into the fact that not all browsers support such technology inherently. There’s nothing more annoying than visiting a site only to be told that you don’t have the proper software to display it.
The trend is leaning toward designing around content, not the other way around. Web designers are talented individuals who possess skills and creativity that others don’t have.but they don’t have to show off all of their talents on your home page. The design should be centered around communicating your message. A web designer can best display his or her skills by accomplishing that goal.
Subtle yet Impactful Images
Today’s web designers are incorporating smart icons and images that hint at the message they’re trying to deliver. They use subtle gradients to create a 3-D effect and utilize reflections and fades whenever necessary. Icons are often used to embellish a page, but a good web designer knows when enough is enough. The last thing they want to do is clutter the page and confuse the website visitor.
Icons are useful in separating and organizing content so that it’s easier to read. It helps direct the visitor’s eye when they are skimming through pages with a lot of copy. Do not mix icon sets, or if you’re creating your own icons, keep them consistent. Do not make one icon with a 2-D graphic when the rest of the set consists of 3-D graphics, even if they’re pseudo 3-D. Another mistake is making the icon too small that you can’t tell what it is.
Text Color and Size
Web designers should choose font size depending on the site’s audience. Oversize fonts, when used correctly, can be used to draw attention to a particular area of the website. Bolding and highlighting are also used to emphasize the most important points, but try not to use more than one or two fonts throughout a website. It is important to remember that overuse of any of these elements can ruin a website’s overall look and feel.
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