63 Nordicom Review 28 (2007) 1, pp. 63-76 The Role of Aesthetics in Web Design L ISBETH T HORLACIUS Abstract Web sites are rapidly becoming the preferred media choice for information search, com- pany presentation, shopping, entertainment, education, and social contacts. At the same time we live in a period where visual symbols play an increasingly important role in our daily lives. The aim of this article is to present and discuss the four main areas in which aesthetics play an important role in the design of successful Web sites: aesthetics play an important role in supporting the content and the functionality, in appealing to the taste of the target audience, in creating the desired image for the sender, and in addressing the requirements of the Web site genre. Key Words: web design, visual communication, aesthetics, functionality, taste, image, website genre Introduction The term aesthetics in the context of this article covers visual, sound and interactive means of effect. However, the article focuses primarily on the visual means of effect in terms of colours, typography, design, pictures, video clips, flash animations, etc. Visual communication is a reality as soon as a word is typed, a colour chosen, or a text displayed on the screen, and any visual expression, whether it is intentional or not, communicates something to the visitor of the site. The Web designer can never bypass the effects of graphic design elements. These are given on every Web site. If we choose a vibrant, warm red colour for the menu, we communicate something different than if we had chosen a calm, cool blue colour. If we have a specially designed typography made for our headlines we leave a more personal impression on our Website than if we choose the most common typography such as, for example, Verdana . However, complex, multimedia installations, impressive pictures, and video clips are, at least in principle, optional extras, since they are not given factors that must be dealt with in any Web de- sign. We are forced to work with the visual elements of text and colour, but we can bypass aesthetic effects in the form of stimulating multimedia Flash installations and pretty pictures. The only thing we cannot avoid is that there is always visual communication on a Web site, whether the use of visual effects is deliberate or not. We need to know about graphic effects and visual symbols, so that our communication can be intentional. 1 The visual effects play an important role in the communication of content, in addition to creating more or less aesthetic experiences.
64 Functionality The term functionality in this context covers the user friendly aspects of interfaces and Human Computer Interaction (HCI), where the main objective is to create effective websites where the user quickly and efficiently can obtain the desired pieces of infor- mation without being delayed by long downloading times or blind alleys when navigat- ing on the site. Jakob Nielsen has played an important role worldwide in giving direc-
- Fall '09
- Web Design, web site, web sites