Tag Archives: technique

Shades of Grey: Monochromatic Color in Web Design

Web design tips

History is filled with companies, brands and other institutions that have been associated with a certain color. Italian car manufacturer for example is closely associated to the color rosso corsa, a unique shade of red that began as Italy’s racing color. By that same token, Coca-cola has also been forever associated with the color red and white and confectionery maker Cadbury has the exclusive rights for that shade of purple named, appropriately, as Cadbury purple.

Armed with the above knowledge, picking a color to use in your website should be done with careful consideration. Usability concerns and general attractiveness should obviously take priority but you should also take into account the use of color for branding purposes. Monochromatic design, the practice of using only variations of one color is one trend in web development and design that aims to satisfy all the above requirements.

A less colorful world

Choosing the right combination of colors is an incredibly arduous process. While technically there are only 3 or 4 primary colors in the world (red-green-blue or cyan-magenta-yellow-black), there can literally be millions of composite colors that can be derived by combining any of the primary colors. Finding the perfect combination from that embarrassment of riches can be difficult, which is why going the monochromatic route might be preferable.

Now, even though the term monochromatic infer that we’re solely going to use one shade of color in every facet of the website, for practical reasons the use of a single color palette is used by choosing one base color, typically one of the 12 colors featured in the standard color wheel along with the variations of that base color. These variations are obtained by darkening the base color with black, dulling that color with gray or by lightening that color with white.

The tricky part is when trying to use this approach if your website is going to feature a lot of photography. Obviously, limiting your images to only feature colors that you’ve picked for your website is going to be close to impossible but you could remedy this issue by simply adding a color overlay to the photo you’re using. This method is more effective when used on grayscale images however so you might have to tone down overly loud images first before applying the color overlay.

Colin Chapman, the founder of Lotus Cars that was a dominant force in Formula 1 back in the 60s and 70s designed his cars around one simple philosophy, simplify, then add lightness. You can find that same philosophy manifested today in brands such as Ikea and Muji and the whole concept of minimalism. Monochromatic web design builds around that same concept of simplification as well and streamlining the choice of colors to just one palette does a lot of wonders to your website development process, which will be outlined further.

Monochromatic design helps make some sense of a busy layout

When a particular section involves a lot of elements or when you’re presenting a lot of data such as when we’re talking about an infographic, monochromatic design can help keep things grounded. While it’s true that you want each data to be legible with the use of contrasting colors, too many clashing colors might overwhelm the viewers. Using two contrasting shades of a single or color or pairing them up with white and/or black could solve that problem without making your website look like a box of donuts.

To help illustrate a sense of progression in your website

Bear with me on this, but I’m going to use a pretty weird analogy to help explain this one. In the world of Pokémon, there’s this concept of evolution, where some creatures are capable of transforming into a better, bigger version of themselves. In most cases, the evolution is natural, like the Pokémon Bulbasaur having the bulb on its back blossoming into an actual flower when it evolves into Ivysaur and then into Venusaur. In certain cases however, like the carp Magikarp evolving into the dragon-like Gyarados, they make absolutely no sense. They don’t even have the same color, going from red to blue.

You see, if a certain section of your website has this element of progression, such as when outlining different premium pricing plans or when presenting the chronological history of an entity, you could use progressively darker or lighter shades of the same color to illustrate this progression. Monochromatic design isn’t just effective aesthetically; it can also be used functionally in clever visual cues such as this.

To create divisions between sections while still maintaining consistency

Still related to the point above, you can also use differing shades of the same color as an invisible wall to divide sections within your websites. Instead of using progressively darker shades as a sign of progression, you could also use the same technique as a visual cue for hierarchy to show both the division and relationship between sections. Think of this as color-coding done intelligently, using progressively darker or lighter shades as you move further down or up the hierarchy.

Additional thoughts

As an added note, it might be a good idea from time to time to not always stick to the rules in monochromatic design. For example, even though Facebook’s interface is mostly blue and white, they also selectively use green to highlight important action buttons.  You don’t always have to be rigid when it comes to monochromatic design, if there’s an opportunity where you can bend the rules a little bit, don’t hesitate to do so on your discretion.

Flat as a Fiddle: 4 Benefits of Flat Web Design

Flat as a Fiddle- 4 Benefits of Flat Web Design

Just like the world of high fashion, web design has gone through several different trends during its relatively short existence. There was a time that simple flash animation was a pretty common sight on the internet. At the dawn of the 21st century, skeumorphism, a design language in which digital interface is made to closely mimic its real-life counterpart, a digital bookstore made to look like a bookshelf for example, briefly emerged as a leading trend before the world decided that a digital interface being limited to earthly restrictions kind of misses the point.

As a response to skeumorphism, the early 2010s ushered in a design trend that is still prevalent in today’s internet, referred to as flat design. Flat might be an adjective those in the music industry would like to avoid but it is actually one of the more functionally and aesthetically pleasing trend in web design. If you’ve ever used the oft-maligned Windows 8 OS, then you’re already familiar with how flat design looks like.

Flat design as a functional aesthetic

Flat design takes its name from the judicious use of two-dimensional characteristics, employing simple flat shapes as building blocks, contrasting color palette and noticeable typography to ensure a clean and minimalist interface. Flat design put its focus on the user’s experience. It aims to streamline user’s experience in order to provide optimum usability while still maintaining an aesthetically pleasing look.

Now, it’s true that the Windows 8 wasn’t favorably viewed by both the public and critics when it was first released but that’s more because it wasn’t a particularly good fit for mouse & keyboard users. Use it on a tablet or any touch-capable device and its brilliance shines through. Flat design came in part because of the world’s continuous shift into smartphones. With a much reduced screen real estate, web designers have to come up with a way to simplify navigation for users.

To do this, they look at the concept of minimalism and applied that similar line of thinking into the design of a user interface. As a result, flat design is stripped off of any frivolous features, displaying only the necessary elements for navigation to users. Using this approach results in a number of benefits for both the users and designers, functionally and aesthetically as well, which we’ll explore further in the article.

It’s highly flexible and modular

Because flat design relies on simple rectangular shapes and typography, it is highly modifiable by nature. It employs a grid-based design where things can be easily added or resized according to the whims of the designer, so long it doesn’t interfere with the user’s experience. The Windows 8 start menu and the pinned tiles in the Windows 10 is an example of this modular nature.

Content is still the focus on the modern internet and having an interface that allows you to mess with how that content is displayed without wrecking your website is a highly desirable characteristic for designers.

It fits perfectly with responsive design

Like what’s been stated above, Microsoft’s idea with Windows 8 is that it aims to present roughly the same experience to both smartphone users and traditional desktop users. As a result, Windows Phone 8, the mobile OS that was launched concurrently with the desktop OS, has the same interface as you’d find on desktop, only with slightly different layout and placement.

Because the interface is made up of smaller building blocks of rectangular shapes, adapting this interface to a smaller screen and different orientations (portrait and landscape) is simply a matter of resizing and placing these blocks differently, just like Lego pieces. This meshes well with the concept of responsive web design, in which a webpage adapts itself to the size and orientation of the screen it’s being displayed on to present the optimum experience for users.

It utilizes clean and functional design

Since it mostly relies on two main elements, rectangular shapes and typography, flat design won’t be confusing for users. The website for Wyss Institute, a bio-engineering research institute in America, employs a flat design for its main page, with news arranged in blocks akin to Windows 8.

To a lesser extent, the collection of information spread underneath, acting as introductory passages to what exactly the Wyss Institute stands for, employs a grid-based design as well. Each segment is placed within their own rectangular area. Flat design doesn’t always have to conform to the same uniform design language; brands can still build on the same principle of clean and functional design without looking similar to each other.

It is now an industry standard

While the unique applications vary from websites to websites, flat design works using the same underlining example. Using the same basic design saves users time by not having to adapt to another design language when they hop from one website to another. Think of it this way, if traffic lights around the world uses different colors instead of the same combination of red, yellow, and green, motorists would have problem when moving to another city.

Ask anyone who’s had to switch from right-hand drive vehicles to left-hand drive vehicles and I’m pretty sure cases of them opening the door on the passenger’s side instead of the driver’s side is pretty common.

Admittedly, flat design doesn’t give a lot of wiggle room for designers to be creative with their design, limiting customization to little more than colors and layouts. I prefer to consider this a good thing though. Brands should flex their creativity on contents while putting functionality considerations in their interface above all else. Flat web design achieves that goal while still enabling designers to achieve an aesthetically pleasing look, if done correctly.

How to Map Out Psychology-based SEO Strategies to Improve Your Business

How to Map Out Psychology-based SEO Strategies to Improve Your Business

Now that most business owners know how important SEO for business is, many of them start looking for the best SEO services in town. It may be exaggerating, but it’s true. When you own a business, SEO is the right solution for digital marketing part, since nowadays the technology keeps growing. However, it is not only about the technology. When it comes to human nature, psychology is the key. Why? That’s because human is your target audience. If you are a business owner, keep reading this article to find out the strategy to improve your business by mapping out psychology-based SEO strategies.

When SEO is seen in psychology and strategy perspective, the entire method has more punch when it reaches the stage of coding and content structuring. It can make use of synergies with marketing ventures like social media, press releases, public relations and more. As someone who has goals in business, your aims include:

  • Increase sales
  • Reduce costs (saved on other marketing channels)
  • Improve resource efficiency
  • Create synergies (that often last for years)

However, even after knowing the aims, there is a contrast between a low-priced SEO firm that relies purely on keyword-stuffing and basic link building which leaves a lot of money on the table from missed opportunities. Many Internet marketers know how important it is to begin with keyword research. Sadly, too many stop right there. Keywords are important. If done properly, they will help you comprehend exactly what your market wants, in specific numbers, and suggest methods of optimisation that are suitable. However, take a look at deeper intent and these keywords show a lot more about your prospective buyers that can help boost conversions. A keyword that’s a specific expensive food supplement suggests an affluent, health conscious prospect who searches for quality products, and is willing to pay for the best quality.

With that in mind, business owners need to look at every page as a ‘landing page’.  Also, they need to ask themselves these questions:

  • What are visitors arriving at this page looking for?
  • What problem are they facing and how can we help them?
  • How can we deliver an experience they’ve been looking for everywhere else?

If you implement SEO strategies based on using those questions, you can reach more people to look at your brand. If you need more information about SEO, feel free to contact us and we will gladly help you.