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Look Pretty But Work Hard: 5 Important Aesthetic Tips for Websites

(photo source: DavidErickson)

Websites are a complicated mix of art and function. Combining the power of programming and a tangled web of knowledge to connect with the art of graphic design, websites can run the spectrum from extremely artistic with little functionality to very functional while lacking artistic quality.

The goal for all sites should be to combine these two elements harmoniously to a specific application. Here are 5 important aesthetic aspects to remember when creating a worthwhile website:

Plan your place in the spectrum

A site designed for calculating percentages of mathematical equations doesn’t need amazing imagery. Ideally, it would be a resource for mathematicians, but on the other hand it would also be nice to give those math guys something nice and simple to look at while they crunch their numbers.

Think about all users

There is always a demographic that is the core of a website--remember Pareto’s principle. Always plan to amaze and wow these users, but remember not to exclude other possible users who might be useful to the site. Don’t be afraid to be bold but keeping in mind the ability to allow expansion—allowing for variety. Keep things simple, but don’t dumb down a site’s layout and content to cater to the minority –make your users appreciate your content and be excited in reading it.

Keep it useful

Whatever you decide as your level of artistic input, remember that a website should remain a useful resource. Even if the resource is just to look pretty, the site should still work hard to accomplish a goal, even if that is just to emit a strong emotional response to a user because of its artistic qualities.

Play with color

Here in New York we have a variety of subway trains that commuters ride everyday. Some trains are almost 50 years old, while others are only a few years old. While both of these types of trains serve the same purpose and function pretty much the same—the newer trains create a much more pleasing experience—using soothing blues and relaxed whites in their interior decor. Use color and contrast to evoke an emotion. If you want to evoke excitement with your users, then explore exciting colors. Relate the color and feel to your site in a way to instantly tell the user what your site is about.

Maintain a balance

Too much of one thing is never a good thing. There should always be a balance between form and function. Plan for the how a user’s eye will scan the page. What elements will they focus on first? Place your content accordingly and allow for breathing room. A cluttered page is never good idea, even if your demographic wants a million things in their face. Keep in mind websites should be an artistic expression of your organization or idea!

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