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156 The Principles of

156 The Principles of Beautiful Web Design What to Look For The old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words certainly holds true on the Web. Photographs and illustrations often serve as visual lures that catch passing visitors and reel them into your content. On the other hand, the wrong images, or even a poor presentation of the right ones, can be detrimental to a website’s appeal. Every viewer of a photograph or illustration sees that image differently, depending on the person’s own background and individual experience. So the thousand words that one person draws from an image may be different from the thousand words another person takes from it. Before you choose an image or illustration to include in the layout or content of a website, ask yourself the following three questions: Is it relevant? Relevant images can add interest to your design and enhance the content of a web page. They provide visual bookmarks that help visitors remember what was covered on the page, and where to look when they return. Take a look at the promo page for Grovemade 1 ’s hand-made products in Figure 5.2. The background photograph is visually compelling and relevant, giving the page a workshop vibe and personality that another image may be unable to replicate. This is a logical rule that most people get right when they choose images for content; however, relevance is only one factor to consider when choosing an image. Figure 5.2. Grovemade's hand-made products 1

Imagery 157 Is it interesting? Although it’s important to maintain a connection between the visual elements of a design and its content, you should avoid always making it priority number one. The problem with looking for relevant imagery is that we often become caught in the trap of being too literal. And when it comes to choosing images, the land of literal is where all clichés are born. If you were designing a website for a Tex-Mex restaurant, what type of image would you immediately choose? I think my gut instinct would be “happy people eating nachos.” This is definitely not an image you’ll find on the Tijuana Flats 2 website in Figure 5.3. Instead, you’re treated to an atmosphere that’s completely unexpected—an old fashioned arcade game turned into a website interface. The concept is ingenious, with the arcade buttons as social media buttons, and the careers link in the top left is a ticket that actually slides out of the slot when you hover over it. The restaurant's promotions and important information are displayed on the game screen. The entire design has a retro video game vibe that just works, while being thematically irrelevant to a Tex-Mex restaurant. Figure 5.3. Tijuana Flats breaks the mold of convention Is it appealing? Images that are aesthetically or emotionally appealing can be a very efficient hook for attention and emphasis. The issue is that beauty and attractiveness are different for everyone. Depending on the subject matter and target audience of the site you’re designing, an appealing image might be a portrait of a mother and her child, a panoramic cityscape, or an adorable cartoon mascot. Appealing images are especially important for sites dealing with restaurants, recipes, and catering. If the food seen on the website fails to make your mouth water, customers will avoid eating, 2

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