Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Maybe it's Web Design

Some will blame the economy - but it could be web design.  While the economic situation has resulted in pensive inaugurations and sober Oscar ceremonies, minimalism is making a comeback in its traditional domains of art and design. 

Behold the latest Coke bottle.  The traditional white logo on a solid field of red.  No drop shadows, keylines or highlights.  New logos and packaging from other major brands show that Coke is not alone.

So has the economic situation begun to influence fashion?  Perhaps.  But, web designers may have a little to do with it.

Unlike packaging, web design evolves rapidly, even on very basic levels.  The iconic Coke bottle has changed little in over 100 years, so the canvas remains the same for Coke’s package designers. 

Now consider the web design canvas.  In the last decade, it has doubled in size.  Enhanced graphic chips have allowed more colours, more resolution and more options.  Animations, audio and video have added new dimensions that give web design a unique identity.  It is no longer an imitation of print work.

The result?  After evolving on tighter screens, web designs are now obliged to fill a larger area.  In the best designs, the void is not stuffed with additional elements, but with “whitespace” that allows existing elements to “breathe” and do a better job. 

While whitespace may have grown from an ever-increasing frame size and improved technology, it is now a necessary part of most successful web design and layout. 

A well-known example is the Google homepage, which has remained the same for over 10 years - a multicoloured logo on solid field of white.  Sound familiar?

By Stephen Da Cambra

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