The graphic design of a website is one of the most important parts of a Web design job. A site to be successful on the World Wide Web must have an appealing graphic design that is capable of drawing the attention of a many people all around the world. To accomplish this is not an easy job. Only experts on graphic design have the skills to make decisions regarding colors, typography, images, etc. These graphic decisions are very important since the success of the website will depend on them.
A Web page or site that does not enjoy a good graphic design will bring really negative results. For example, the message a company wants to convey in its website may not be clear –this has to do sometimes with the decision of colors: for a website promoting a spa, red or exciting colors are not convenient. The images selected could be insulting according to the website target –a website on scholarship showing pictures of only white people may convey that scholarships are not available for non-white people.
But the work of graphic designers is generally underestimated and some people think they can do this job themselves. Of course, as we said before, the result of the work done by a non-expert in graphic design is terrible, but this is only understood if we have an insight into some basic graphic aspects:
HTML limits graphic design because HTML has a specific way of slicing images and the graphic designer cannot feel free of locating images wherever he wants. The designer must follow certain rules regarding the layout of the design so that the code work can be carried out. In addition, the different browsers read some HTML codes in different ways, so when working with the HTML codes, it is important to take certain decisions regarding these codes so that the site is always displayed the same way.
As we said before, colors are extremely important in Web site designs. They are very powerful design tools. They will determine whether a site is successful or not. A bad color selection will repeal the audience, and all the work that developing a website implies will be useless.
Each color in the color palette has a different connotation, and graphic designers are completely aware of this. They know about color theory and symbolism. It is important to know that the meaning of colors will vary according to each culture. That is to say that, for some orient communities, colors will not mean the same as for western people, for example.
For some orient societies, red denotes happiness, prosperity and marriage. Green means eternity, harmony, peace, family, health. White is the traditional color of mourning. And pink and pastel colors are associated with trust and stability.
For some western societies the same colors have completely different meanings: red is associated with power, warmth and fun. Green is the color of nature, earthiness. White is purity and it is black the color that is associated with death. Blue conveys trust and stability.
It is of high importance to know the target of the Web design so as to make the right selection of colors right from the beginning.
Choosing the most accurate images that will be included in the design is essential. Some really good Web designs are completely unsuccessful because of a few images. Graphic images –3D or 2D illustrations, photographs- are very strong design elements. They have the power to enrich plain text in an extraordinary way.
The person in change of the Web graphic design must analyze the pictures he will include in the design, the reasons why he chose those pictures and if the message that the entire Web design is trying to convey is connected to the message these pictures transmit.
The layout of images is also of high importance. Sometimes the location of images transmits a specific message. For example, if I own a website that is intended to sell electric appliances, but I want to highlight that we mainly sell blenders, I should put a picture or pictures of blenders in a visible and outstanding position so as to transmit that idea. It would be no convenient to put pictures of other devices in outstanding positions and leave blenders pictures for the bottom of the page.
As we said before, images are very strong graphic elements, and for this reason, abuse of images in a Web design may result extremely inappropriate and may ruin the rest of the design work. The best thing to do is to use few pictures and to leave considerable room between a picture and the other. As only few images can be used, they must represent all the ideas that are to be conveyed, which makes much more difficult the decision of images.
Typography is another graphic element that is quite important in any design. This occurs because typography also conveys specific feelings and meanings. The body, size and type are very important features of typography that will interfere in the effect that the complete graphic design will produce.
Thanks to the different technologies created for graphic design and writing, there is a great variety of typographies available from where to choose. The main typographic families are Abadi MT Condensed Light, Arial, Arial Black, Book Antiqua, Calisto MT, Century Gothic, Comic Sans MS, Copperplate Gothic Bold, Courier New, Impact, Lucida Console, Lucida Handwriting Italic, Lucida Sans, Marlett, News Gothic MT. OCR A Extended, Symbol, Tahoma, Times New Roman, Verdana, Webdings, Westminster and Wingdings.
Although there is a great variety of typographies that may look really good in a design, the possibility of using them all is quite reduced. It is convenient not to mix more than two or three types of typography in one design. Apart from this, there are certain types that cannot be used for large written content. This occurs because Sans Serif typographies –Verdana and Arial, for example- are difficult to read when they appear in large texts. The reader gets unconsciously tired because there is not a connection of letters. But Serif typographies –Times New Roman, for example- make it easier for the reader to follow the text since there is a line connection among letters. Time New Roman is the most common typography in newspapers and magazines for the good legibility they provide.
Sans Serif Typography:
Time New Roman
It is also important to consider that, just like colors, the type of typography that is going to be used in a design will vary according the target audience. If the design is aimed at a corporate audience, the designer can choose to use serious and classic typographies such as Time New Roman or Arial. This way the design will convey the seriousness that the whole design must convey. In the case the design has been created for a young target, there are certain typographies like Comic Sans MS that give a text a sense of youth.
A screen is not the same as paper, and this is something that must be taken into consideration when selecting the type of text that the design will include. On the screen, it is much more difficult to accomplish clear legibility. For Web designs it is convenient not to use small typographies, especially those with serif, since they are not easily legible. Bold text can be used only in a moderate way. Abuse of bold text may confuse the reader since this is only used to reinforce a word or phrase. Italics are also not recommended in Web designs since texts in italics are really difficult to follow on the screen.
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