Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Web Design: A Poor Man's Way of Painting

In a society where style rules over substance, the aesthetic nature of an object is seen (no pun intended) to be more important than its actual purpose. It's important as a web designer to maintain an artistic perspective when creating a web page, but also to not lose focus on its content. Colorful, eye-catching visuals are nice to stare at for the first five minutes, but the value becomes lost if there is nothing else to hold the visitors' attention.

In James Glen Stovall's book, Web Journalism: Practice and Promise of a New Medium, he states three fundamental elements of aesthetic design.
  • Type - the fonts and typefaces used to display the actual text; it has to be readable and fit the theme of the website.
  • Illustration - the usage of photographs and other visuals throughout the website; nothing is more boring than a website with all text and no pretty pictures to gaze at.
  • White Space - the "null" background space that fills up any area of the website unoccupied by text or graphics; too much or too little of this is bad as it can bewilder the eye of visitors.
Similar to designing a newspaper or magazine, certain themes must be sought and then maintained throughout the end product. Stovall considers consistency to be one of the largest factors in building a website as it establishes a website's identity and exerts a sense of order.

Like a painter criticized for his works, not everyone will appreciate the value of a webpage's design. It is important to appeal to as many visitors by accommodating their eyesight. This can be done by following certain techniques such as the strategically placement of bigger graphics versus smaller graphics, making sure there is contrast within the colors which adds visual appeal, and directional guidance (e.x. left to right text, up to down navigational links).

Making sure everything fits on a computer screen is also important. Horizontal scrolling is frowned upon as readers/visitors do not want to scroll back and forth after each break in the line. Vertical scrolling is much less irritating but if there is too much scrolling involved, the visitor may feel overwhelmed. Stovall suggests keeping the length of a front page to be very short.

While building a website, the webmaster must not compromise the simplicity of the website. Although technology is prominent in our society, it does not mean everyone is literate with its usage. There are still quite a few of people who are intimidated by the overwhelming technology, and the last thing on their mind is having to navigate through a maze of a website.


At 10:44 AM, March 29, 2006, Blogger james simon said...

James, some good points to highlight, but are your comments analytical? Show me you have critically assessed the material, argued with it

dr simon


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