Effective Visual Design

Before we begin, we should first try to understand how a user interacts within your website current content (posts, pages and utilities); including what and how they think while they surfing from page to link. By understanding what the ‘normal’ the basic  user patterns of ‘behavior’ have been on your website will improve it design.

The way that people receive our designs and how they are viewed, strongly affects the meanings they had derived from them.

The Gestalt Principle

This concept was assimilated from the Gestalt Psychology formulated back in 1890 in Berlin — as a theory of mind. Because the mind has a self-organizing tendency to try to create order out of chaos, it creates our perception of a global whole.

This principle contends that the human mind considers all the discombobulated objects as a single image, and often in parallel. Simply put, our brain looks at all the disassociated and chaotic images to create a single image in our mind in an attempt to establish a meaningful perception of order in a chaotic world.

Before we lose some of you, we’re going to examine the phenomena as ‘intelligent design.’ And as such, a basic fundamental principle every web designer should consider during the design phase of any web project.

Design Theory & Web Design

Trying to come up with a good and creative design may seem easy for someone who has attended a design school, but the truth of the matter is most web designers never attended any type of design course and are really nothing more that programmers and developers pretending to be designers with little or no talent at all. This does not mean that some people do not possess a natural talent, because there are a LOT. But what defines a good web design? Is it just ‘raw’ talent?

For those who demonstrate a natural talent and have a keen eye, inherently know what will work and what won’t. But is there any logic behind the science to guide web designers into creating great designs? When one examines the work of Leonardo da Vinci closely, we see there is a science behind his inherent ability of creativity. But because not every designer is a da Vinci, we will be focusing on one of the most important and fundamental ideas that can make a BIG differences in a final design.

What is Seen

When you look at this image, what do you see?

Now click on the image to enlarge and examine it more closely. What you missed will quickly be revealed and you will end up seeing the detail your brain missed when it sorted out chaos to create order.

Designers, more often than not, focus only on a web design’s overall detail rather than the overall look; e.g. curved edges, shadows, fonts…etc. and that’s all fine, however it may not really make a big difference if the client does not like their design after it has loaded into the browser. Designers often fail to realize our brain only sees the overall shape of the design, BEFORE it can focus on the details.

Here, In another popular image that demonstrates this fascinating principal, people will at first assume both images are totally identical; however there are five, very subtle yet distinct differences in the details of each painting . . . with none of them really impacting on the overall design as a ‘whole.’

How quickly did you identify them?

1. The woman’s eyes gaze off in opposite directions.
2. The old man has on a different sombrero.
3. The black bird on the wall is turned around in an opposite direction.
4. The walkway’s pavement bricks are larger in one than the other.
5. The man’s cane is flipped and darker in the one on the right.

Applying the Gestalt Principle to the Web Design

Here are a few examples from the web put alongside the respective layout silhouettes of each. What the Gestalt of the brain is identifying on each page is the silhouette view as the basic shape being presented as a whole. Trying to change anything other than the main shape will result, more or less, in the same design… and going back to your client with the same design after they’ve requested changes will make the client feel that nothing has been done.

“The design will look exactly the same unless the structural gestalt has been changed.”

You’ll be surprised at how many designers have made this critical mistake and wonder why their client still hates a design . . . and reality nothing really did; even thought the designer may have changed or added images, or tirelessly work to improving the individual graphic elements.

Alright, let’s peek at a few designs and their silhouettes so you can get a better idea what the ‘Gestalt Principle’ really is:

At World Nexus Publications we understand this principle all to well. And it’s unfortunate that many designers usually play it safe by sticking a basic square-like design (bottom 4 layouts above) making their website design quite ordinary and not very creative. Boring!

Here is where you want to ‘think outside the box‘ by experimenting with the ‘containment shell’ of the design. Whether it’s rotating the box a few degrees to offset it, or by cutting out and changing one of the corners… all of this not only adds interest to the overall design’s with uniqueness and creativity, it can be used to channel the flow to get the visitor to see what the client wants them to see.

By beginning the design by outlining the with the container fields, which affects the overall structural of the design; they can decide later on the design, what detail content and components will need to be added.

When complete, and the client is satisfied with the basic structure, the web design is ready for the wire-frames and details. It’s amazing how much of an impact this has by starting from the inside out. By working on the header and navigation first, designers often make the BIG mistake of wanting to insert the lay-out components before they know whether or not,  it is within the boundaries of a neatly packed and nicely colored page of content. From ‘usability perspective’ making the design perspective so much more creative it will stand out and say ‘WOW!”