23 July, 2008

Fundamentals of Graphic Design for A Visually Attractive Website

A website is primarily designed to win the attention of the eyes, and as such, graphic design plays an integral role in fulfilling this purpose. Let’s face it, who wants to browse the pages of a visually unappealing website, right? Much care should be observed in preparing the overall layout of our pages, and this requires a sound knowledge of the fundamentals of graphic design.

The very essence of graphic design can best be summarized by the acronym PIVP. That is, graphic design must be Purposeful, as it should be able to convey concepts and ideas to a certain group of individuals. Graphic design must also be Informative, to impart specific processes in a manner that the artist chooses. Graphic design uses a Visual language, as it shows instead of tells, through innovative illustrations as well as customary or cool fonts. Lastly, graphic design is likewise a Process, as the end product is the culmination of an evolution from a general medium to a specific piece. Many tools are available for the artist on the web.

In completing a design, much care must be given to the choice of color. Colors conjure certain emotions, and the use of different hues and tones is a way of manipulating the audience’s feelings to sway with the artist’s desires. Yellow, for example, is a stimulating color that invokes glee. Red, on the other hand, is a repressive color that implies desistance.

The artist is also tasked to guide the audience by taking into consideration what the latter would view first. Would he gaze from left to right, from top to bottom, as he normally would? Would a deviation from this pattern lead to confusion, or a novel presentation? Determining what order to pursue is the first task in formulating a layout. Once such is in motion, the artist should pay attention to the four principles of composition: balance, which demands an equal portioning of influence; Rhythm, which is a repeated pattern that can be used to produce a desired effect; Unity, which should assure that all the elements of the design belong together; and Emphasis, which determines what part of the design shall be seen first.

The artist can also influence the transmittal of the idea by using the design elements of line, shape, texture, space and size. Different exploitations of these elements would produce varying effects. An increase in size could invoke importance, for example. A smooth texture could summon a feeling of calmness.

The artist’s choice of perspective can also affect the piece’s illusion of depth. To illustrate, a 1-point perspective where the light converges in one vanishing point can lead to a more accentuated environment, though a 2-point and even a 3-point perspective can convey a more open atmosphere. With the advent of 3-D rendering, the artist can now stress how light affects the appearance of an object without having to worry about overlapping forms.

There are ideas, however, that mere illustrations would fail to reveal, hence the need for words. Words are presented through the use of typeface and fonts. Typeface refers to the consistent visual properties of the characters used, while fonts are groups of characters using similar styles. There are many free downloadable fonts in the web. They range from the traditional, to the cool fonts that reflect typesets in popular culture. TrueType fonts are the new universal standard, as they have displaced PostScript in many publishing environments.

Everything should come together to form an overall package of excellence. A veteran graphic artist would be able to determine this by instinct. It is something that only experience could teach us. And experience, well, it’s like a destination… we won’t be able to reach it if we don’t take that first step.

So hold on to that desire of building the most visually attractive website that you could. Everything starts with desire, after all.