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108 The Principles of

108 The Principles of Beautiful Web Design Figure 3.28. Electric Pulp: modern grunge The wood grain used on the Electric Pulp site simply exists to evoke an organic, hand-crafted vibe. The slightly rotated logo, active marker on the navigation menu, and trees at the bottom of the page all feel hand painted, and the “We Build Websites” text looks as if it was burned into the background. All of this helps to establish a very recognizable style that you can see repeated in much of the agency’s client work as well. I guess you could say that rich tangible texture is their calling card. Although some people feel the wicked worn look is (or was) a fad that has come and gone, I believe it’s a design option that’s here to stay. Like a comfortable pair of jeans with holes in the knees, or a faded stack of postcards with tattered edges, there is validity and honor in things that show wear and tear, and the passage of time. And now for something completely different … Clean and Grainy As a backlash against the worn aesthetic, there was a period of time in the late 2000s when a lot of designers and developers decided to buck the use of textures entirely. At the time, it seemed to be a logical reaction. After all, if you want to make a crisp, professional first impression, adding a ton of extreme textures can be like wearing holey jeans and a concert T-shirt to a job interview. That

Texture 109 said, just because you’re trying to be all corporate and business-like, it doesn’t mean your designs have to be boring and flat. Take a look at the Foundation Six 12 website in Figure 3.29. Figure 3.29. Sophisticated design and subtle texture in Foundation Six There’s no boring corporate blue or pictures of people in cubicles here, just a professional, sophisticated design with a complementary color scheme and loads of subtle texture. Check out the curl of the F6 banner, the radial gradient on the blue backdrop, and the double shadows produced by the portfolio screenshots. At the heart of this clean, tactile look is the subtle noise texture that’s present on all three of the background blocks you see above. A noise or grain texture is simply a pattern of tiny dots. If you look around you, most surfaces have some sort of subtle texture to them. Adding a bit of translucent noise helps break up expanses of flat colors and pixel-perfect gradients to make digital surfaces look more analog. Applying subtle noise textures on the Web is a fairly new trend, but because it’s such a primitive building block, I think we will be seeing it in designs for years to come. Another site that adds texture to an otherwise basic layout is the Banger's Restaurant 13 site, seen in Figure 3.30. 12 13

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