The 4 Pillar "Web Seduction" Strategy

  1. Design
  2. Technology
  3. eStrategy
  4. Traffic

Web Site Design
To seduce a customer who visits your site you need to appeal to their visual senses. Any sensible discussion about "web design" begins with the idea that what we call web design is really just the latest in a chain of various art forms under the rhubric of "design". These art forms, such as cave drawing, lithography, typography, painting and industrial design, evolved from teacher to pupil through different mediums (rock, canvas, paper ...) and a number of basic rules have emerged that guide each new artist in developing an artistic design interpretation. When it comes to web design then, it helps to under the framework of the fundamental rules, prinicples and elements of design and see how they interplay in the medium of a computer screen.

The following list includes what is known as the 5 principles of design:
  • Balance
    Balance is an equilibrium that results from looking at images and judging them against our ideas of physical structure (such as mass, gravity or the sides of a page). It is the arrangement of the objects in a given design as it relates to their visual weight within a composition. Balance usually comes in two forms: symmetrical and asymmetrical.
  • Rhythm
  • Proportion
  • Dominance
  • Unity

Balance is the arrangement of the objects relative to their visual weight within a design. Symmetrical (formal) balance occurs when the weight of a composition is evenly distributed around a central, vertical or horizontal axis. Think of a globe centered in a box (square or rectangle), cut down the middle and you have a standard Symmetrical balance because the design elements assume identical forms on both sides of the axis. Asymmetrical (informal) balance is basically a balance that is not symmetrical. If you want to be technical this describes when the weight of a composition is not evenly distributed around a central axis. It involves the arranging of objects of differing size in a composition such that they balance one another with their respective visual weights. Often there is one dominant form that is offset by many smaller forms. In general, asymmetrical compositions tend to have a greater sense of visual tension. Think of a box of balls of varying sizes with some balls being noticeably larger than others and drawing your attention even moreso by their comparison to the smaller balls.

Rhythm is used to create a sense of movement by using repetition or alternation of design elements - sometimes with defined intervals between them - that tend to form a pattern of sorts. The viewer may even sense some form of feeling as he identifies or merges with the flow of the rhythm in the design.

There are a few rhythmic movements:
  • Regular rhythm (the intervals are similar in size or length)
  • Flowing rhythm (think waves in an ocean or ripples)
  • Progressive rhythm (a sequence of steps).

    Proportion is the relationship in scale between one element and another, or between a whole object and one of its parts. Differing proportions can relate to different kinds of balance or symmetry, and can help establish visual weight and depth.

    Dominance is perhaps the most important design principle because it dicates where the eye goes first when looking at a design. Accordingly, there are 3 stages of dominance which establish the guidelines for space and perspective for each element and/or object within a design. Thinking along the lines of distance in a very linear fashion, the Dominant stage includes those elements that "Pop" into the foreground and have what is known as the most visual weight. Second, comes the Sub-dominant elements which enjoy a secondary emphasis and reside in the middle ground of the composition. Last comes the Subordinate objects which are given the least visual weight and thus recede to the background of the composition.

    Unity, the last design principle, sort of encapsulates the other 4 because it describes the relationship between the individual parts and the whole of a composition. It is the finishing touch of a design that gives it a sense of wholeness - not in a formal sense but in a finished sense, that the design is complete (even if that means its completeness is completed by its lack of completion).

    Unity obeys a few psychological prinicples itself.
    • First is the idea that the brain tends to fill in missing information when it perceives that part of an object on display is missing one or more of its pieces. The idea is that the designer can suggest the full picture of an item even if the full item is not displayed because the mind will fill in the pieces so to say. This gives the artist some latitude to let each visualizer in a sense fill in the missing pieces with his/her own imaginative conclusions.
    • Continuance is the idea that once you begin looking in one direction, you will continue to do so until something more significant catches your attention. Perspective, or the use of dominant directional lines, tends to successfully direct the viewers eye in a given direction. In addition, the eye direction of any subjects in the design itself can cause a similar effect. What this means is that the designer can lead the viewer by the clever use of lines (think a roadway or long arrows) to follow a design on a page along a route of intended consequences.
    • Items of similar size, shape and color tend to be grouped together by the brain, and a semantic relationship between the items is formed. In addition, items in close proximity to or aligned with one another tend to be grouped in a similar way.

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