Sep 29, 2015

Our digital universal visual language.

In a recent article it was argued that web design has become boring and predictable since its early days of hectic layouts and loud random colours. Arguably, there are a handful of websites that can’t be excused for their lack of functionality and purpose however, they may at least relate to one and other with a similar layout. The fact the structure is similar doesn’t make it boring, it makes it instantly familiar to users around the world. This is because we’re no longer trying to pave the way anymore. We’ve researched and discovered factual information into how users interact with digital interfaces, known in the industry as UX (User Experience) and UI (User Interface) design. This is the process of enhancing user satisfaction by improving the usability, accessibility, and pleasure provided in the interaction between the user and the product. Out of the madness has emerged standardised patterns that are now convention due to best practice research seen adopted by big players like Facebook, Google and IOS.

You can expect to go to a random site and immediately understand where the navigation is likely to be and for the most part, how it works. You also have an idea of what pages are called and what information those pages contain, such as contact, about and store. You know what icons mean, you can easily identify buttons and navigational signposting making the site immediately understandable. After all, who has the time to decrypt every site they land on?

Here’s an example to consider… There’s nothing exiting about road signage. So why don’t we make them all special and unique? Because every time you see one and even at a moment’s glance in your peripheral vision, you know what information it shows and what it’s indicating about your journey ahead. With that in mind, we’re all familiar with the confused feeling on arriving at a motorway service station when greeted by unfamiliar signage. With the desire to consume a product or service the last thing you want is to get lost along the way. Road signs are so universal and “boring”, you can go to another country where the signs are in a different language, but you know what they mean because they speak the same visual language, and that extends past road signs, into general public informational signs.

I guess we’ve ironed out a few of the basics which as a result allows little time for error. The basic rules are defined and the language has been set. With this said, there is a place for creativity and thats what we’re constantly challenging but the internet simply isn’t what it was back when it started. Its more advanced and in short has done some growing up with the responsibility of serving vastly many more purposes. If every site structure was completely different, not as many people would find the internet as useful.

written by James Collins

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