Web + bling = cool, right? If only you could design bling for the web… oh wait! Yes you can! But I’ll get to that in a sec.
In standard website design, we have those nice, smooth gradients and borders. You live and breath them as a designer.
What’s the problem? It looks nice, okay. The problem is usage. Websites come in cookie cutter formats. (I complain about this on occasion, once even recently.) I have to wonder if its because people like that kind of format or if website designers are, in part, lazy. Granted, it takes quite a bit of time to put together a professional website, and when it’s done, people can take one look at it and know a professional did it. However, I do think we can extend the boundaries of website design, break away from this cookie cutter industrial standard, and finally make stuff really cool without using Flash. I’m sorry, but Flash is for people with little imagination and lots of time on their hands – including designer and visitor (you must have alot of time if you like watching buttons fly in from the left, right, top, and bottom). Oh, wait, I think I wrote about this once already.
Okay, so how to we break out of this mold? There’s a saying that goes, “You have to know the rules in order to know how to break them.” Fortunately I know the rules and know that we won’t be breaking any… though we will be warping the industrial cookie cutter.
The rules are right here in my post: “Web-design: How they make it look professional“, so read that.
In short: borders, simplicity, and gradients. Depending on how you juggle these three, you can throw out one or another and still keep things professional. The easiest one to throw out is simplicity, but be aware there are two kinds of simplicity. One kind of simplicity is that of layout. You must NOT throw out this kind of simplicity flippantly! People need to be able to navigate your site with ease. The other kind of simplicity is that of appearance. It is this kind of simplicity that we can toss out the door – as long as we replace it with something equally suitable.
Consider, for example, my button:
It’s rather boring on its own, but it’s slick, smooth, has a border, uses gradients, and is simple – all the things that fit the industrial cookie cutter. … However, we can throw out simplicity in this button in two ways: 1) We can give it another shape. 2) We can change the interior. As I demonstrate, it’s possible to use a radical shape for a web element and still preserve the professional appearance.
Now, if you really want your standard button, then give them a nice interior.
For buttons in particular, as well as for all web content, it is important to keep in mind the color of the text when making the interior of the button. The text needs to be visible, but don’t let that at all limit you on your creativity in the button. You can easily mess around and have fun making it without hurting the function of the button because the final color of the button can be determined after you have completed the interior (using Colorize or Hue-Saturation filters in Gimp). The only bummer using Colorize is that you will probably lose any sparkles or distinct, interesting features that differ from the dominant color, but it makes for a richer color than using Hue-Saturation. On the other hand, Hue-Saturation can preserve the sparkles and features for the most part.
Now, what about that boring background? Another way you can remove simplicity and brighten your site is by changing the (or adding a) background. Careful, though – this can be a tricky step. Background images need to convey the theme colors of the website, unless you’re doing a stark contrasting color site (which might be interesting if you can do it right).
Now what about that bling I talked about? Well, I’m kinda talking about it now, but let’s carry on with that theme of gold. When I think of bling, I don’t think of money, I think of gold and jewels. Real bling. What are jewels for? Jewels are for drawing out the beauty in something, whether it be women, royalty, or websites. It doesn’t enhance the beauty necessarily, it is intended to draw out the beauty that is there. Starting to get the idea? Decorate your site. I’m not talking about drop shadows. Those are fine and all but they only add to the slickness. What you need is some sparkle. Maybe it’s just some glitter on the top of menus, maybe it really is jewels (pictures, I mean) of ruby, sapphire, and emerald. Okay, so it doesn’t have to jewels per se, but let’s let “jewels” be that which draws out the natural beauty in a site.
That about sums up what I had in mind for the night. Oh yeah, my deviantArt page is looking better now that I’ve added stuff to it. I hope this blog post has been a help to you. Don’t be lazy in your work. Sometimes to get something really good, you have to spend alot more effort on it than you really want to. Persevere, remembering that web design is an art – it’s something that if you do well, you can enjoy it for a long time to come.