1st edition — by Patrick McNeil — Jun. 1, 2006
The Design Element
Imagery is certainly powerful and comes with loads of connotations and
subtle meanings. You might not think much comes with something as simple
as clouds. I don’t feel this is the case however. Clouds can be found
on many sites on the web, and this small grouping of them use clouds in
a very heavy way. I choose not to include more nature oriented sites that
happen to have clouds. So these sites all rely on the usage of the element
in clear and intentional way.
Amazingly the majority of the samples use the cloud photographs as the
background for the site. White and blue skies aren't to high of a
contrast and work remarkably well for a background. In fact they look rather
beautiful, even the weakest of the samples has a simple beauty to it. Perhaps
this is where the connotations come in! Who doesn't love a beautiful
sunshiny day with a bit of white clouds floating in the air. The imagery
works to set an atmosphere of happiness, a very good thing indeed. You
will notice none of these sites have gray stormy clouds which would in
fact create a much different feel.
So what is the point? It seems pretty obvious and simple. Clouds such
as this set a happy safe mood, they are relaxing and communicate a conscious
almost eco-friendly feel. I don't think it is implicitly eco oriented,
but it certainly has a natural healthy feel to it. I would say there is
a limited range of potential usage of this style and element, but all the
same I find it inspiring to see how designers have used such a common thing
in a powerful way. What else could we do the same with. So often we seem
to think in terms of stock photos that are rather generic, and don’t
stretch our brains a bit. A nice lady with a headset on for example, of
course she represent technical support, but come on how lame can you get.
I suppose my point is that we can dig a bit deeper, and engrain a bit more
meaning in our sites through very smart usage of imagery!