Some have it, some don’t. We explain what “it” is.
Ever been to a website and thought, “Wow, this looks good.”? Conversely, have you ever been to a website and thought, ”Wow, this looks horrible.”? I’m guessing you’ve answered “yes” to both of these questions. So what is it that makes a website look good? Well, there’s actually a lot going on that a lot of people don’t even realise.
For us, quality is not achieved when you ask “What more can we add?”, it’s achieved when you ask “What more can we take away?”. This is the first element, content balance.
For us, quality is not achieved when you ask “What more can we add?”, it’s achieved when you ask “What more can we take away?”.
Achieving an ideal content balance is a tricky thing. You want to provide enough information about what you do, but not so much that your visitor gets bored and fed up. When we design websites, we do so in a way that makes visitors want to keep exploring—we invoke curiosity.
Another element that goes hand-in-hand with content balance is spacing. In visual arts, this is referred to as “negative space”. I’ll quickly refer to jazz as an example. One of the things that makes jazz so cool is improvisation. It’s easy to get carried away and play a lot of notes when you’re soloing, especially when you get more familiar with improvising. However, there’s a point when you realise that you’re not playing the notes, you’re playing the space. That’s how web design is. Just because you can fill a space, doesn’t mean you should.
But, how do you fill that space? This brings us to the next element, layout. Although the content on your website shouldn’t be too repetitive, the way in which it is organised should remain fairly consistent. It’s easier to think of it as a grid, with each component designated to a specific grid point. Having uniformity not only looks good, but it makes your website easier to navigate and read.
Now on to the more obvious and noticeable elements—let’s start with typography. A simple change in typography can make something look clean and smart, or silly and childish. There’s a great documentary called, “Helvetica”, which I highly recommend, that talks about typography and its influence on people. One of the most popular trends in typography is sans-serif text. A serif is the small line attached to the end of a letter. So, sans-serif text has this little line omitted. I might do another blog post about typography exclusively, but I think you get the general idea.
Example of serif: a.
Colour. This is a big one. Although the colour psychology debate is not going to be settled any time soon, that won’t stop us from talking about it. Whether if it’s through conditioning or a natural born attraction, colours affect our thinking, even when we’re not aware of it. When you see blue, what do you think of? A common answer would be the sky or the ocean. When we think of the sky and ocean, we think of vastness, depth, freedom, freshness, and cleanliness, to name a few—all relatively positive traits. If we dig even deeper, we can start associating those traits with emotions and characteristics such as intelligence, truth, wisdom, and loyalty. Blue is a very common colour utilised by advertisers and branding agencies because it evokes such a positive emotional response. Of course we could do this for every colour, but that would take too much time. I’ll list the most common colours and their corresponding psychological affects at the end of this post.
Our final element is graphics and photos. Like all of the concepts we’ve discussed, this one could be made into it’s own separate post. Graphics consist of primarily icons, illustrations, clickable buttons, etc.—basically anything that is not a photograph. Great graphics are clean, sharp, and minimalistic. Clean = consistent colouring and use of space. Sharp = non-jagged lines and resizable. Minimalisitc = not overly detailed to distract from the message. The graphics we use at JammCat are vector images, meaning they can be resized, larger or smaller, without losing detail.
Photography is not only a different element, but a completely different field all together. I want to start wrapping things up, so I won’t get into photography too much. But, in relation to your website, ensure that it accurately reflects your business, colour scheme, and looks like it was taken from a professional. Amateur photos can make a brilliant designed website look subpar.
There’s a lot that goes into designing a good looking website. You have to understand design, spacing, typography, colour psychology, complimentary colours, photography, and a slew of other things, AND understand how to put it all together on the internet. This is why you typically see more bad websites than good ones, especially with small businesses. Let us make you stand out on the internet for all the right reasons. Let’s make a, “Wow, this looks good”, website.
What element do you think is most important? Leave a comment below!
-Ryan | JammCatI