07. June 2012 · Comments Off on How Much Does it Cost? · Categories: Business Issues · Tags: , ,

Clients are always concerned about the cost of a web site.  Web site production is unfamiliar territory for most people and they don’t know what to expect.  This post helps you understand some of the factors that affect web site cost.  Here I discuss a custom web site designed and built specifically for you.  This post doesn’t cover WordPress web sites, WordPress blogs or commercial templates.

Think of paying for a web site as you would a car.  You can buy anything from a small scooter (simple web site) to a six figure sports car (Flash web site).  In other words, there’s something available for any budget.  Cars have been around for over 100 years and everyone has an idea how much car a certain amount of money will buy.

The difficulty with web sites is that people don’t yet have a good understanding of cost and value.  How do multiple columns, a lot of illustrations, an online store, video, or audio affect cost?  What functions do you need to see a direct pay back in your business and what functions are simply eye candy that won’t provide significant value?
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I attended a workshop in Ikebana,  the Japanese art of flower arranging. The Ikebana concept that impressed me the most was that of visual motion.  Ikebana strives to keep the eye engaged by eliminating any element that would stop the continuous scanning motion of the eye.   Some examples of such eye stopping elements are:

  • Straight lines
  • 90 degree angles
  • Absence of  negative space (space between objects)

The photo to the left shows an Ikebana arrangement.

Example of Ikebana

Example of Ikebana

Notice the following:

  • Simplicity, only 3 elements: white calla lilies, pink azaleas and black tray
  • Curved lines, no straight lines
  • Only 5 upright flowers grouped as 3 + 2, creating negative space between the vertical elements, the stems
  • Negative space between the horizontal elements: calla lilies at the top,  azaleas and tray at the bottom

Despite the sparse, simple aesthetic, its visual interest  pulls you in and keeps you there.  Isn’t that what we want for our own web sites?

I gave some thought to how I could  apply this to web design.  I believe when you drill down and understand your goals and core values and how to realize them, you arrive at a truth that can be expressed simply and effectively.

If you don’t really understand who you are and what you’re doing, what better way to cover it up than to keep piling on more and more until you get a web site that looks like this:

hutchins for congress

Analysis by Smart Alice Web Design & Photography, smart web design for businesses who want a unique and effective presence on the internet.

02. February 2010 · Comments Off on The Persuasive Power of Repetition, Clarity, & Simplicity · Categories: Design Tips · Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

easyAnother argument emerges for simple web design (see my previous post  Creating Your Web-Scape)  in Drake Bennett’s article on cognitive fluency, Easy=True. Cognitive fluency is  the psychological precept that “people prefer things that are easy to think about to those that are hard…In any situation where we weigh information, fluency is implicated in our decisions about everything.”

In a nutshell, when information is easier to mentally process, people feel attraction and belief.  The opposite,  disfluency – making things difficult to grasp,  creates a cognitive roadblock that makes people wary and uncomfortable.

While this might seem intuitively obvious, evidence abounds that plenty of businesses (and web designers) don’t get it.

Bennett’s article is a terrific resource for more information on fluency and disfluency and the supporting research.

For the purpose of this blog let’s take a look at the practical implications of fluency and  disfluency in terms of web design.  Keep in mind this is all based on research, not my own preferences.

Disfluency:the art of making things difficult –

Web Design that Loses Business

Here are some characteristics of a disfluent web site that will leave web site visitors with a negative impression.

Inaccessibility

  • Unfamiliar words (for example, technical jargon and acronyms)
  • Names and words that are difficult to pronounce
  • Complex syntax
  • Illegible text (see my previous post The Dog and the Lotus)
  • Missing information or convoluted instructions
  • Functions that don’t quite work

Sensory Overload

  • Overcrowding the page
  • Visual distractions
  • Multiple columns of disparate text
  • Little or no white space
  • Flickering animation

Inconsistency

  • Confusing navigation
  • Poor organization

Fluency:the art of making things easy to understand –
Web Design that Encourages Business

Here are some characteristics of a fluent web site that subliminally suggest to visitors that your business is reputable and trustworthy.

Repetition

  • Consistent navigation and page layout across the web site
  • Artful repetition of key ideas(note: repetition is good, redundancy is bad – know the difference)

Clarity

  • Legible fonts and color coordination
  • Plenty of white space
  • Language and syntax that everyone can understand

Simplicity

  • Message boiled down to its essence
  • Graphic design and content that are easy to assimilate (accessible) both visually and conceptually

Web Site Analysis: The Glass House

glass house web siteLet’s take a look at the web site for The Glass House and see how well it does fluency wise.

Repetition: The grey box is repeated throughout as the background to the title (I like the opacity that reminds us of the see through quality of glass), the background in the drop down menus, and the background for other important pieces of information.

Clarity: The site contains a lot of information,  notice how it’s been logically organized and categorized.

Simplicity: One column layout, plenty of white space.

Verdict: Fluency.  I’m convinced this is a reputable organization dedicated to professionalism on all levels.

Analysis by Smart Alice Web Design & Photography, smart web design for businesses who want a unique and effective presence on the internet.