1st edition — by Patrick McNeil — Dec. 4, 2006
The Design Element
This new category of Chic Designer is a bit vague at first. I am not referring to any specific element, it is more about the over all feel. Chic is defined as elegant and stylish, and that is exactly how this set of sample sites feels. I suppose this is similar to my super clean classification,
but I think there are some differences.
This is certainly a beautiful set of sites. I must warn you that some of these sites will be rather discouraging as they set the bar quite high. But this is the purpose of inspiration is it not! To challenge us, and push us to a higher level. I would say that if your lost and don't have a clue where to begin on a design these could be some great sites to look though. Lets take a look at some of the elements that make these sites uber chic.
Back to the basics
Many of these sites get back to the basics of design. In fact you will find that in many ways they are not relying on complex visual designs but rather on simple elements that have been attentively styled to produce the best possible design.
One such element that is used well is that of hierarchy.
is a prime example. The site has a deliberate and well thought out hierarchy making the site easy to skim and far less confusing. Consider how the viewer will skim the page and remember that if you try and emphasize everything, you will emphasize nothing. Plan out how you want the user to consume the page visually and you have a better chance of getting this right.
Balance is another aspect of these designs that are thought out very well. Take a look at
and pay special attention to how the page is perfectly balanced from left to right. This most certainly did not happen by accident. Notice how the two outside columns even end at the same point, the designers had to choose to make this happen, and for good reason. The site is actually incredibly simple, and could have easily been entirely unimpressive. Instead attention to detail makes this one into a wonderful site. What is even more remarkable is that the 6 landing pages for the main sections are all perfectly balanced as well.
The fine art of nothing is certainly present here. Two samples stand out in particular,
. Their designers have avoided the temptation to compartmentalize every last thing, especially the content. The copy has room to breath and your eyes never feel cramped. There is most certainly an open freedom to these pages that doesn't even come close to boring. As they say, sometimes less is more.
What really blows me away is how simple many of the color pallets are on these sites. Many of them have monochrome colors with a single splash color, and quite frequently it is used as a solid. Sure you will find the gradients, but notice how they are so subtle that on first glance you might think they are solid:
demonstrate this perfectly.
Don't loose heart if the simple complexity of this sounds tough. There isn't a designer out there that would tell you this is easy. Many aspects of graphic design may be touchy feely and done by instinct, but there is most certainly a foundation of basics which can always produce fantastic results.
Genopal (Color pallet creation software)
COLOURlovers (Excellent color pallet collections)
Kuler - pallet builder from Adobe /
best tool I have found for easily creating beautiful color pallets)
Great color browsing resource (Named colors, by hue, etc)
Blender (On MeyerWeb)
Color In Motion
Color Schemer Online v2
Color Schemer Gallery